DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2023.2773 ISSN: 0962-8452

The environmental conditions of endemism hotspots shape the functional traits of mammalian assemblages

Benjamin R. Shipley, Jenny L. McGuire
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine

Endemic (small-ranged) species are distributed non-randomly across the globe. Regions of high topography and stable climates have higher endemism than flat, climatically unstable regions. However, it is unclear how these environmental conditions interact with and filter mammalian traits. Here, we characterize the functional traits of highly endemic mammalian assemblages in multiple ways, testing the hypothesis that these assemblages are trait-filtered (less functionally diverse) and dominated by species with traits associated with small range sizes. Compiling trait data for more than 5000 mammal species, we calculated assemblage means and multidimensional functional metrics to evaluate the distribution of traits across each assemblage. We then related these metrics to the endemism of global World Wildlife Fund ecoregions using linear models and phylogenetic fourth-corner regression. Highly endemic mammalian assemblages had small average body masses, low fecundity, short lifespans and specialized habitats. These traits relate to the stable climate and rough topography of endemism hotspots and to mammals' ability to expand their ranges, suggesting that the environmental conditions of endemism hotspots allowed their survival. Furthermore, species living in endemism hotspots clustered near the edges of their communities’ functional spaces, indicating that abiotic trait filtering and biotic interactions act in tandem to shape these communities.

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