Relation between the habitat niche breadth and the geographic range size: A case study on palearctic voles (Mammalia: Rodentia: Arvicolinae)

Georgy Shenbrot, Boris Kryštufek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Habitat niche breadth for Palearctic Arvicolinae species was estimated at both local (α-niche) and global (the entire geographic range, γ-niche) scales using occurrence records of species and environmental (climate, topography, and vegetation) data. Niche breadth was estimated in the space of the first two principal components of environmental variables using kernel smoothing of the densities of species occurrence points. The breadth of α-niches was estimated for a set of random points inside the geographic range in a series of buffers of increasing size around these points. Within each buffer, we calculated the overlap between the distribution of environment values for the kernel smoothed densities of species occurrence points and the distribution of environment values in the background environment. The α-niche breadth was calculated as the slope of the linear regression of the niche breadth for buffers of different size by the ln area of these buffers with a zero intercept. The γ-niche breadth was calculated as the overlap between the distributions of environmental values for the kernel smoothed densities of species occurrence points over the whole geographic range and the distribution of environmental values in the background environment and also approximated by linear regression of the species’ average α-niche to the geographic range area of this species. The results demonstrated that the geographic range size was significantly related with the αand γ-niche breadth. The γ-niche breadth was significantly positively correlated with the α-niche breadth. Finally, the differences between the γ-niche breadth values that were directly estimated and extrapolated from the α-niche breadth (Δ) values were positively correlated with the geographic range size. Thus, we conclude that the species occupy larger geographic ranges because they have broader niches. Our estimations of the γ-niche breadth increase with the geographic range size not due to a parallel increase of the environmental diversity (spatial autocorrelation in the environment).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalPovolzhskii Ekologicheskii Zhurnal
Volume2021
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Altitudinal distribution
  • Arvicolinae
  • Geographic range size
  • Global niche
  • Local niche
  • Macro-habitat niche breadth

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