Extinction as a driver of avian latitudinal diversity gradients.Evolution. 2016 Apr; 70(4):860-72.E
The role of historical factors in driving latitudinal diversity gradients is poorly understood. Here, we used an updated global phylogeny of terrestrial birds to test the role of three key historical factors-speciation, extinction, and dispersal rates-in generating latitudinal diversity gradients for eight major clades. We fit a model that allows speciation, extinction, and dispersal rates to differ, both with latitude and between the New and Old World. Our results consistently support extinction (all clades had lowest extinction where species richness was highest) as a key driver of species richness gradients across each of eight major clades. In contrast, speciation and dispersal rates showed no consistent latitudinal patterns across replicate bird clades, and thus are unlikely to represent general underlying drivers of latitudinal diversity gradients.