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Hemispheric asymmetries in biodiversity: a serious matter for ecology

Chown, S.L., Sinclair, B.J., Leinaas, H.P. and Gaston, K.J. (2004) Hemispheric asymmetries in biodiversity: a serious matter for ecology. PLoS Biology, 2 (11). e406. ISSN 1545-7885


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[FIRST PARAGRAPH] Penguins have been receiving a lot of bad press lately. They are considered somehow counter, spare, strange. Unlike most plant and animal groups, they do not show a peak of species richness towards the equator and a decline towards the poles. This more conventional spatial pattern is conveniently known as the latitudinal diversity gradient because of the strong covariance of richness and other measures of biodiversity that it describes. It is one of the most venerable, well-documented, and controversial large-scale patterns in macroecology (Willig et al. 2003). Equatorial peaks in species richness have characterised the planet since the Devonian (408–362 million years ago) (Crame 2001) and are typical of a wide range of both terrestrial and marine plants and animals (Gaston 1996; Willig et al. 2003). Despite the fact that this pattern has been documented since the late 1700s, sustained interest in both the regularity of the pattern and its likely underlying mechanisms is relatively modern. The realisation that human activity is posing substantial threats to biodiversity has quickened the pace of this interest (Willig et al. 2003). Where the peaks in richness lie (biodiversity hotspots), how these peaks relate to centres of endemism (areas that support large numbers of species that occur nowhere else), and how these patterns are likely to change through time, especially in the face of major environmental change, are major concerns. Without such knowledge, conservation is unlikely to succeed.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2004 Chown et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2006
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2014 04:22
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0020406
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020406
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/936

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