The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Correlates of dispersal limitation in African mammal communities

LYDIA BEAUDROT1,2, JASON M. KAMILAR3,4 and KAYE E. REED4.

1Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California-Davis, 2Department of Anthropology, University of California-Davis, 3Department of Anatomy, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Midwestern University, 4School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

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A variety of factors, including local ecology, historical biogeography, and interspecific competition, influence species distributions and co-occurrence patterns. Unlike other large-bodied animals, communities of primates are more strongly structured by dispersal limitation than by environmental filtering in tropical forests. Here we investigate the extent to which primates may be outliers compared to broader mammalian communities.

We compiled species presence-absence data from the published literature for 260 mammal species at 206 sites across Africa. For each site we compiled geographic coordinates and environmental data on rainfall, temperature and altitude. We conducted a cluster analysis to identify biogeographic regions containing sites with similar communities of species. We then performed partial Mantel tests for each cluster to determine the relative influence of environmental conditions and geographic distance between sites on community composition in each region. Results show that communities of primates are not outliers when compared to the broader mammal community, but are instead representative of the processes structuring their respective communities. Moreover, analyses revealed a latitudinal gradient with equatorial regions more strongly structured by dispersal limitation and an increase in the importance of environmental factors with increasing distance from the equator. We investigate the role of functional traits in producing this pattern.

Our results suggest that positioning primate communities within a broader phylogenetic context provides insight into mammalian community patterns at large spatial scales and allows understanding of the role of primates within this larger context. We highlight the need for analogous inquiry in other biogeographic regions.

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