Global bioregions of reptiles confirm the consistency of bioregionalization processes across vertebrate clades

Mattia Falaschi, Silvio Marta, Elia Lo Parrino, Uri Roll, Shai Meiri, Gentile Francesco Ficetola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Aim: The identification of biogeographical zones has been fundamental in broadscale biodiversity analyses over the last 150 years. If processes underlying bioregionalization, such as climatic differences, tectonics and physical barriers, are consistent across vertebrate clades, we expect that groups with more similar ecological characteristics would show more similar bioregions. Lack of data has so far hampered the delineation of global bioregions for reptiles. Therefore, we integrated comprehensive geographic distribution and phylogenetic data of lepidosaurian reptiles to delineate global reptile bioregions, compare determinants of biogeographical boundaries across terrestrial vertebrates and test whether clades showing similar responses to environmental factors also show more similar bioregions. Location: Global. Time Period: Present. Major Taxa Studied: Reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals. Methods: For reptiles, we used phylogenetic beta diversity to quantify changes in community composition, and hierarchical clustering to identify biogeographic ‘realms’ and ‘regions’. Then, we assessed the determinants of biogeographical boundaries using spatially explicit regression models, testing the effect of climatic factors, physical barriers and tectonics. Bioregions of reptiles were compared to those of other vertebrate clades by testing the overall similarity of the spatial structure of bioregions, and the match of the position of biogeographical boundaries. Results: For reptiles, we identified 24 evolutionarily unique regions, nested within 14 realms. Biogeographical boundaries of reptiles were related to both climatic factors and past tectonic movements. Bioregions were very consistent across vertebrate clades. Bioregions of reptiles and mammals showed the highest similarity, followed by reptiles/birds and mammals/birds while amphibian bioregions were less similar to those of the other clades. Main Conclusions: The overall high similarity among bioregions suggests that bioregionalization was affected by similar underlying processes across terrestrial vertebrates. Nevertheless, clades with different eco-physiological characteristics respond somewhat differently to the same environmental factors, resulting in similar but not identical regionalizations across vertebrate clades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272-1284
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • biogeographical boundaries
  • macroecology
  • phylogenetic beta diversity
  • squamates
  • tetrapod biogeography
  • vertebrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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