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  1. The species – area relationship (SAR) is a common pattern in which diversity increases with the area sampled, but ecosystems are three‐dimensional (3D) and diversity – volume relationships (DVRs) may exist in ecosystems that vary substantially in their vegetation volume. We tested whether forest vegetation volume, as a 3D extension of area in SARs, was a significant predictor of taxonomic (species) and structural (arrangement) diversity in five groups of organisms across the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). Vegetation volume and four structural arrangement metrics within the area of NEON plots were measured using NEON's discrete return lidar. Species richness was measured as the number of species within the respective NEON plot sampling area for understory plants, trees, breeding land birds, small mammals, and ground beetles. We found that volume negatively predicted understory plants and positively predicted tree and beetle species richness across the USA forest macrosystem, but not bird and small mammal species richness. Furthermore, volume was a significant predictor of several metrics that describe the internal and external heterogeneity of vegetation in forests (structural arrangement) within the ecosystem across the USA forest macrosystem. There were several significant within site‐level relationships, but not at all sites, between volume and species richness or structural arrangement in organism groups. Our study indicates that previous work that has focused on a 2D conceptualization of habitat can be expanded to 3D habitat space, but that the strength and the positive or negative direction of DVRs may vary taxonomically or geographically. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Pelagic seabirds are highly mobile, reducing opportunities for population isolation that might promote differentiation and speciation. At the same time, many seabirds are philopatric, and their tendency to return to their natal islands to breed might reduce gene flow sufficiently to permit local adaptation and differentiation. To test the net impact of these competing processes, estimates of differentiation and gene flow based on comprehensive geographical sampling are required. We leveraged diverse source material to achieve comprehensive geographical sampling in a widespread seabird, the Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Ardenna pacifica). Using data from sequence capture and high-throughput sequencing of 2402 loci containing 20 780 single nucleotide polymorphisms, we tested for population differentiation and gene flow among breeding areas. We found little evidence of deep divergences within A. pacifica but were able to resolve fine-scale differentiation across island groups. This differentiation was sufficient to assign individuals sampled away from breeding areas to their likely source populations. Estimated effective migration surfaces revealed reduced migration between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, presumably owing to land barriers, and across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, perhaps associated with differences in breeding schedule. Our results reveal that, despite their mobility, pelagic seabirds can exhibit fine-scale population differentiation and reduced gene flow among ocean basins.

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  3. Abstract

    Alpha taxonomy endeavours to propose a coherent vision of existing species and, simultaneously, to individualize the natural entities useful to understand evolutionary processes. This ideal is especially difficult when available data lack congruence. Here we address the polytypic species Synallaxis rutilans (ruddy spinetail), a suboscine passerine widely distributed in the Amazon Basin and whose taxonomy could, potentially, aid our understanding of processes shaping its biodiversity. Combining genetic [genomic ultraconserved elements (UCE) and mtDNA] and morphological data, we demonstrate that while delimitation of genetic lineages and their phylogenetic relationships are strongly associated with classic Amazonian geographic barriers, such as rivers, different coloration patterns appear to be more associated with local selection processes for phenotype. Employing an evolutionary approach, whereby the species is considered a taxonomic category, rather than a nomenclatural rank, we propose to recognize five species: S. amazonica, S. caquetensis, S. dissors, S. omissa and S. rutilans. The taxonomic arrangement proposed here permits better understanding of the similarities and differences among taxa from different areas of endemism, and represents patterns of genetic and morphological diversity resulting from distinct processes acting across certain time frames. This arrangement draws attention to the importance of understanding the evolutionary processes operating in the complex and constantly changing Amazonian landscape.

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  4. Abstract

    Understanding the factors that govern variation in genetic structure across species is key to the study of speciation and population genetics. Genetic structure has been linked to several aspects of life history, such as foraging strategy, habitat association, migration distance, and dispersal ability, all of which might influence dispersal and gene flow. Comparative studies of population genetic data from species with differing life histories provide opportunities to tease apart the role of dispersal in shaping gene flow and population genetic structure. Here, we examine population genetic data from sets of bird species specialized on a series of Amazonian habitat types hypothesized to filter for species with dramatically different dispersal abilities: stable upland forest, dynamic floodplain forest, and highly dynamic riverine islands. Using genome‐wide markers, we show that habitat type has a significant effect on population genetic structure, with species in upland forest, floodplain forest, and riverine islands exhibiting progressively lower levels of structure. Although morphological traits used as proxies for individual‐level dispersal ability did not explain this pattern, population genetic measures of gene flow are elevated in species from more dynamic riverine habitats. Our results suggest that the habitat in which a species occurs drives the degree of population genetic structuring via its impact on long‐term fluctuations in levels of gene flow, with species in highly dynamic habitats having particularly elevated gene flow. These differences in genetic variation across taxa specialized in distinct habitats may lead to disparate responses to environmental change or habitat‐specific diversification dynamics over evolutionary time scales.

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  5. Avian diversification has been influenced by global climate change, plate tectonic movements, and mass extinction events. However, the impact of these factors on the diversification of the hyperdiverse perching birds (passerines) is unclear because family level relationships are unresolved and the timing of splitting events among lineages is uncertain. We analyzed DNA data from 4,060 nuclear loci and 137 passerine families using concatenation and coalescent approaches to infer a comprehensive phylogenetic hypothesis that clarifies relationships among all passerine families. Then, we calibrated this phylogeny using 13 fossils to examine the effects of different events in Earth history on the timing and rate of passerine diversification. Our analyses reconcile passerine diversification with the fossil and geological records; suggest that passerines originated on the Australian landmass ∼47 Ma; and show that subsequent dispersal and diversification of passerines was affected by a number of climatological and geological events, such as Oligocene glaciation and inundation of the New Zealand landmass. Although passerine diversification rates fluctuated throughout the Cenozoic, we find no link between the rate of passerine diversification and Cenozoic global temperature, and our analyses show that the increases in passerine diversification rate we observe are disconnected from the colonization of new continents. Taken together, these results suggest more complex mechanisms than temperature change or ecological opportunity have controlled macroscale patterns of passerine speciation.

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  6. The tropics are the source of most biodiversity yet inadequate sampling obscures answers to fundamental questions about how this diversity evolves. We leveraged samples assembled over decades of fieldwork to study diversification of the largest tropical bird radiation, the suboscine passerines. Our phylogeny, estimated using data from 2389 genomic regions in 1940 individuals of 1283 species, reveals that peak suboscine species diversity in the Neotropics is not associated with high recent speciation rates but rather with the gradual accumulation of species over time. Paradoxically, the highest speciation rates are in lineages from regions with low species diversity, which are generally cold, dry, unstable environments. Our results reveal a model in which species are forming faster in environmental extremes but have accumulated in moderate environments to form tropical biodiversity hotspots.

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