Climatic drivers of hemispheric asymmetry in global patterns of ant species richness

Robert R. Dunn, Donat Agosti, Alan N. Andersen, Xavier Arnan, Carsten A. Bruhl, Xim Cerdá, Aaron M. Ellison, Brian L. Fisher, Matthew C. Fitzpatrick, Heloise Gibb, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Aaron D. Gove, Benoit Guenard, Milan Janda, Michael Kaspari, Edward J. Laurent, Jean Philippe Lessard, John T. Longino, Jonathan D. Majer, Sean B. MenkeTerrence P. McGlynn, Catherine L. Parr, Stacy M. Philpott, Martin Pfeiffer, Javier Retana, Andrew V. Suarez, Heraldo L. Vasconcelos, Michael D. Weiser, Nathan J. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

212 Citations (Scopus)


Although many taxa show a latitudinal gradient in richness, the relationship between latitude and species richness is often asymmetrical between the northern and southern hemispheres. Here we examine the latitudinal pattern of species richness across 1003 local ant assemblages. We find latitudinal asymmetry, with southern hemisphere sites being more diverse than northern hemisphere sites. Most of this asymmetry could be explained statistically by differences in contemporary climate. Local ant species richness was positively associated with temperature, but negatively (although weakly) associated with temperature range and precipitation. After contemporary climate was accounted for, a modest difference in diversity between hemispheres persisted, suggesting that factors other than contemporary climate contributed to the hemispherical asymmetry. The most parsimonious explanation for this remaining asymmetry is that greater climate change since the Eocene in the northern than in the southern hemisphere has led to more extinctions in the northern hemisphere with consequent effects on local ant species richness. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-333
JournalEcology Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009


  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Eocene
  • Formicidae
  • Latitudinal gradient


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