NCEAS Project 5660

Environmental determinants of biodiversity

  • Richard D. Stevens

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Postdoctoral Fellow15th December 2002—14th December 2004Participant List  

Abstract
Understanding the mechanistic bases of patterns in biodiversity has challenged ecologists and evolutionary biologists alike for more than a quarter of a century (Rosenzweig 1995). Although the ubiquity of gradients in species richness is well documented at coarse scales of resolution, it is unclear to what extent patterns are recapitulated at the level of local communities or for any other aspect of biodiversity (Stevens and Willig 2001). Biodiversity represents the totality of variation in living things (Tilman 2000). Thus, it is likely that no one measure such as species richness, or any one perspective, such as that of taxonomic diversity, can provide a comprehensive characterization. Investigations that simultaneously explore fundamental components of biodiversity (i.e., taxonomic, functional, or phylogenetic diversity) will allow for analyses that provide deeper, more comprehensive understanding regarding the distribution of biota across space and time. Although secondary gradients (e.g., latitudinal diversity gradients) have been described ubiquitously, much less is known about the primary environmental gradients or suite of gradients that cause such patterns. Numerous biotic and abiotic characteristics vary spatially in different but correlated ways. Distinguishing the relative contributions of a number of environmental characteristics to gradients in biodiversity will contribute substantially to our understanding of ecology, biogeography, and evolution. Moreover, resolution of the effects of primary gradients on the spatial distribution of biodiversity may also greatly enhance our understanding of the mechanistic basis of secondary gradients such as those described for latitude.

Products of NCEAS Collaborations:

Vazquez, Diego; Stevens, Richard. In press. The latitudinal gradient in niche breadth: Concepts and evidence. American Naturalist.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Presentations Stevens, Richard D. 2003. Dynamics of community structure through space and time: From seasonal differences to latitudinal gradients. Ecolunch. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.
Presentations Stevens, Richard D. 2003. Latitudinal gradients in the phylogenetic diversity of New World bat communities. Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America.
Presentations Stevens, Richard D. 2003. Latitudinal gradients in the phylogenetic diversity of New World bat communities. Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists.
Journal Article Stevens, Richard D.; Cox, Stephen B.; Willig, Michael R.; Strauss, R. E. 2003. Patterns of functional diversity across an extensive environmental gradient: Vertebrate consumers, hidden treatments and latitudinal trends. Ecology Letters. Vol: 6. Pages 1099-1108.
Presentations Stevens, Richard D. 2003. Seasonal environments, dynamic density compensation and the structure of subtropical frugivore guilds. North American Symposium on Bat Research. Nebraska.
Journal Article Stevens, Richard D.; Willig, Michael R.; Gamarra de Fox, I. 2004. Comparative community ecology of bats from Eastern Paraguay: Taxonomic, ecological, and biogeographic perspectives. Journal of Mammalogy. Vol: 85(4). Pages 698-707.
Journal Article Stevens, Richard D. 2004. Untangling latitudinal richness gradients at higher taxonomic levels: Familial perspectives on the diversity of New World bat communities. Journal of Biogeography. Vol: 31(4). Pages 665-674.
Journal Article Stevens, Richard D. 2005. Functional morphology meets macroecology: Size and shape distributions of New World bats. Evolutionary Ecology Research. Vol: 7. Pages 837-851.
Journal Article Stevens, Richard D.; Willig, Michael R.; Strauss, R. E. 2006. Latitudinal gradients in the phenetic diversity of New World bat communities. OIKOS. Vol: 112. Pages 41-50.
Journal Article Vazquez, Diego P.; Stevens, Richard D. 2004. The latitudinal gradient in niche breadth: Concepts and evidence. American Naturalist. Vol: 164. Pages E1-E19.
Journal Article Willig, Michael R.; Kaufman, Dawn; Stevens, Richard D. 2003. Latitudinal gradients of biodiversity: Pattern, process, scale, and synthesis. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics. Vol: 34. Pages 273-309. (Abstract)