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  1. Abstract

    An animal’s daily use of time (their “diel activity”) reflects their adaptations, requirements, and interactions, yet we know little about the underlying processes governing diel activity within and among communities. Here we examine whether community-level activity patterns differ among biogeographic regions, and explore the roles of top-down versus bottom-up processes and thermoregulatory constraints. Using data from systematic camera-trap networks in 16 protected forests across the tropics, we examine the relationships of mammals’ diel activity to body mass and trophic guild. Also, we assess the activity relationships within and among guilds. Apart from Neotropical insectivores, guilds exhibited consistent cross-regional activity in relation to body mass. Results indicate that thermoregulation constrains herbivore and insectivore activity (e.g., larger Afrotropical herbivores are ~7 times more likely to be nocturnal than smaller herbivores), while bottom-up processes constrain the activity of carnivores in relation to herbivores, and top-down processes constrain the activity of small omnivores and insectivores in relation to large carnivores’ activity. Overall, diel activity of tropical mammal communities appears shaped by similar processes and constraints among regions reflecting body mass and trophic guilds.

  2. Understanding the role of species interactions within communities is a central focus of ecology. A key challenge is to understand variation in species interactions along environmental gradients. The stress gradient hypothesis posits that positive interactions increase and competitive interactions decrease with increasing consumer pressure or environmental stress. This hypothesis has received extensive attention in plant community ecology, but only a handful of tests in animals. Furthermore, few empirical studies have examined multiple co‐occurring stressors. Here we test predictions of the stress gradient hypothesis using the occurrence of mixed‐species groups in six common grazing ungulate species within the Serengeti‐Mara ecosystem. We use mixed‐species groups as a proxy for potential positive interactions because they may enhance protection from predators or increase access to high‐quality forage. Alternatively, competition for resources may limit the formation of mixed‐species groups. Using more than 115,000 camera trap observations collected over 5 yr, we found that mixed‐species groups were more likely to occur in risky areas (i.e., areas closer to lion vantage points and in woodland habitat where lions hunt preferentially) and during time periods when resource levels were high. These results are consistent with the interpretation that stress from high predation risk may contribute to the formationmore »of mixed‐species groups, but that competition for resources may prevent their formation when food availability is low. Our results are consistent with support for the stress gradient hypothesis in animals along a consumer pressure gradient while identifying the potential influence of a co‐occurring stressor, thus providing a link between research in plant community ecology on the stress gradient hypothesis, and research in animal ecology on trade‐offs between foraging and risk in landscapes of fear.« less
  3. Studies of the factors governing global patterns of biodiversity are key to predicting community responses to ongoing and future abiotic and biotic changes. Although most research has focused on present-day climate, a growing body of evidence indicates that modern ecological communities may be significantly shaped by paleoclimatic change and past anthropogenic factors. However, the generality of this pattern is unknown, as global analyses are lacking. Here we quantify the phylogenetic and functional trait structure of 515 tropical and subtropical large mammal communities and predict their structure from past and present climatic and anthropogenic factors. We find that the effects of Quaternary paleoclimatic change are strongest in the Afrotropics, with communities in the Indomalayan realm showing mixed effects of modern climate and paleoclimate. Malagasy communities are poorly predicted by any single factor, likely due to the atypical history of the island compared with continental regions. Neotropical communities are mainly codetermined by modern climate and prehistoric and historical human impacts. Overall, our results indicate that the factors governing tropical and subtropical mammalian biodiversity are complex, with the importance of past and present factors varying based on the divergent histories of the world’s biogeographic realms and their native biotas. Consideration of the evolutionarymore »and ecological legacies of both the recent and ancient past are key to understanding the forces shaping global patterns of present-day biodiversity and its response to ongoing and future abiotic and biotic changes in the 21st century.

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