The evolution of climatic niches in squamate reptiles

Marcio R. Pie*, Leonardo L.F. Campos, Andreas L.S. Meyer, Andressa Duran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the remarkable diversity found in squamate reptiles, most of their species tend to be found in warm/dry environments, suggesting that climatic requirements played a crucial role in their diversification, yet little is known about the evolution of their climatic niches. In this study, we integrate climatic information associated with the geographical distribution of 1882 squamate species and their phylogenetic relationships to investigate the tempo and mode of climatic niche evolution in squamates, both over time and among lineages. We found that changes in climatic niche dynamics were pronounced over their recent squamate evolutionary history, and we identified extensive evidence for rate heterogeneity in squamate climatic niche evolution. Most rate shifts involved accelerations, particularly over the past 50 Myr. Most squamates occupy similar regions of the climatic niche space, with only a few lineages diversifying into colder and humid climatic conditions. The changes from arid to mesic conditions in some regions of the globe may have provided opportunities for climatic niche evolution, although most lineages tended to remain near their ancestral niche. Variation in rates of climatic niche evolution seems common, particularly in response to the availability of new climatic conditions over evolutionary time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170268
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1858
Early online date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2017


  • Climatic niche evolution
  • Diversification
  • Heterotachy
  • Squamata


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