Occupancy, range size, and phylogeny in Eurasian Pliocene to Recent large mammals
Paleobiology; August 2010; v. 36; no. 3; p. 399-414
Temporal patterns in species occupancy and geographic rangesize are a major topic in evolutionary ecology research. Herewe investigate these patterns in Pliocene to Recent large mammalspecies and genera in Western Eurasia. By using an extensivelysampled fossil record including some 700 fossil localities,we found occupancy and range size trajectories over time tobe predominantly peaked among both species and genera, meaningthat occupancy and range size reached their maxima midway alongtaxon existence. These metrics are strongly correlated witheach other and to body size, after phylogeny is accounted forby using two different phylogenetic topologies for both speciesand genera. Phylogenetic signal is strong in body size, andweaker but significant in both occupancy and range size meanvalues among genera, indicating that these variables are heritable.The intensity of phylogenetic signal is much weaker and oftennot significant at the species level. This suggests that withingenera, occupancy and range size are somewhat variable. However,sister taxa inherit geographic position (the center of theirgeographic distribution). Taken together, the latter two resultsindicate that sister species occupy similar positions on theearth's surface, and that the expansion of the geographic rangeduring the existence of a given genus is driven by range expansionof one or more of the species it includes, rather than simplybeing the summation of these species ranges.