1. Ecology
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Regularities in species' niches reveal the world's climate regions

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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e58397 doi: 10.7554/eLife.58397

Abstract

Climate regions form the basis of many ecological, evolutionary and conservation studies. However, our understanding of climate regions is limited to how they shape vegetation: They do not account for the distribution of animals. Here we develop a network-based framework to identify important climates worldwide based on regularities in realized niches of about 26,000 tetrapods. We show that high-energy climates, including deserts, tropical savannas, and steppes, are consistent across animal- and plant-derived classifications, indicating similar underlying climatic determinants. Conversely, temperate climates differ across all groups, suggesting that these climates allow for idiosyncratic adaptations. Finally, we show how the integration of niche classifications with geographical information enables the detection of climatic transition zones and the signal of geographic and historical processes. Our results identify the climates shaping the distribution of tetrapods and call for caution when using general climate classifications to study the ecology, evolution, or conservation of specific taxa.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Joaquín Calatayud

    Integrated Science Lab, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    For correspondence
    j.calatayud.ortega@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9056-4149
  2. Magnus Neuman

    Integrated Science Lab, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Alexis Rojas

    Integrated Science Lab, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Anton Eriksson

    Integrated Science Lab, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Martin Rosvall

    Integrated Science Lab, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

Carl Tryggers Stiftelse för Vetenskaplig Forskning

  • Joaquín Calatayud

Stiftelsen Olle Engkvist Byggmästare

  • Martin Rosvall

Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas

  • Magnus Neuman
  • Martin Rosvall

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Barnabas Daru, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: April 29, 2020
  2. Accepted: February 7, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 8, 2021 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2021, Calatayud et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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