Our recent paper published in Ecology Letters was recommended by the Faculty of 1000 as an important paper in ecology. In our study, we compared latitudinal range patterns between families of New World vertebrates that had ancestral geographic origins in North and South America. We found that families that originated in South America exhibited strong niche conservatism and were largely restricted to the Neotropical region. In contrast, families that originated in North America were more widely distributed across the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. We suggest that this asymmetry in niche conservatism has influenced biodiversity patterns in the New World, and is one of the underlying causes of the latitudinal biodiversity gradient.
Smith BT, Bryson RW, Houston D, Klicka J. 2012. An asymmetry in niche conservatism contributes to the latitudinal species diversity gradient in New World vertebrates. Ecology Letters 15: 1318-1325.