The evolution of species abundances in terrestrial vertebrates

MARCIO PIE, Fernanda Caron*, Raquel Divieso

*Corresponding author for this work

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

2 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Interspecific differences in species abundances are one of the oldest and most universal patterns in ecology, yet little is known about how these differences are generated over evolutionary time. In this study, we test whether there is evidence for phylogenetic signal in population densities of four large groups of terrestrial vertebrates, namely birds, mammals, amphibians, and squamates. In addition, we test the hypothesis that the relative number of species in a clade might be a predictor of the abundance of its constituent species. However, given that the number of species in a clade is the outcome of both its age and diversification rate, and each of these factors was tested separately. Our results provide strong support for phylogenetic signal in species densities for all clades, regardless of differences in how species density was computed, or phylogenetic uncertainty. On the other hand, there was no evidence for a relationship between species abundance and the diversity of its encompassing clade. The implications of phylogenetic signal are discussed in the context of models of species abundance distributions, including Hubbell's neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2562-2570
JournalJournal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research
Issue number8
Early online date22 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021


  • macroecology
  • macroevolution
  • phylogenetic autocorrelation
  • population density
  • species abundance distribution


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