Historical refugia have shaped biogeographical patterns of species richness and phylogenetic diversity in mite harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones, Cyphophthalmi) endemic to the Australian Wet TropicsJournal of Biogeography (2016)
We tested the hypothesis that areas that acted as historical refugia during restrictive climate regimes currently harbour higher levels of biodiversity than areas that lacked refugia.
The rain forests of Australia's Wet Tropics, the largest remaining fragments of the humid forest habitats that once covered the Australian continent.
We generated a model of climatic suitability for arachnids in the genus Austropurcellia, a group of small, dispersal-limited mite harvestmen that are found throughout the Wet Tropics. We then projected this model onto palaeoclimate data layers from time slices going back to the Last Glacial Maximum and summed suitability over time to arrive at a measure of stability. We compared the power of metrics of present and past climatic suitability and stability to predict diversity (species richness and phylogenetic diversity) across subregions of the Wet Tropics.
We found statistically significant correlations between measures of diversity (species richness and phylogenetic diversity) and present climatic suitability, LGM climatic suitability and our stability metric across subregions of the Wet Tropics. Although stability lost predictive power when analyses were corrected for spatial autocorrelation, and present-day mean climatic suitability lost predictive power when corrected for spatial autocorrelation under one of our geographical binning schemes, mean climatic suitability during the Last Glacial Maximum had a positive and significant relationship to both number of species and phylogenetic diversity in all analyses.
Our results support a model of biodiversity preservation within historical refugia, resulting in higher present-day diversity in refugial areas than in non-refugial areas. Although previous studies of the Wet Tropics biota have demonstrated a relationship between habitat stability and diversity, ours is the first such study to consider phylogenetic diversity in addition to number of species.
Publication DateJune 10, 2016
Citation InformationSarah L Boyer, Tricia M Markle, Caitlin M Baker, Amy M Luxbacher, et al.. "Historical refugia have shaped biogeographical patterns of species richness and phylogenetic diversity in mite harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones, Cyphophthalmi) endemic to the Australian Wet Tropics" Journal of Biogeography Vol. 43 Iss. 7 (2016) p. 1400 - 1411 ISSN: 1365-2699
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sarah_boyer/37/