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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor B. Huntley

Colville, J.F., Beale, C.M., Forest, F., Altwegg, R., Huntley, B. & Cowling, R.M. (2020). Plant richness, turnover and evolutionary diversity track gradients of stability and ecological opportunity in a megadiversity centre. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117(33): 20027-20037.

Author(s) from Durham


What explains global patterns of diversity—environmental history or ecology? Most studies have focused on latitudinal gradients—the decline of diversity from the tropics to the poles. A problem with this is that it conflates predictions of historical and ecological hypotheses: The productive tropics have also experienced high Cenozoic biome stability. Longitudinal diversity gradients can overcome this constraint. We use a longitudinal diversity gradient in the megadiverse Cape Floristic Region to model species and evolutionary diversity in terms of Pleistocene climate stability and ecological heterogeneity. We find that biome stability is the strongest predictor of diversity measures, and argue that stability, in conjunction with measures of ecological opportunity—other than productivity—may provide a general explanation for global diversity patterns