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Determinants of local abundance in a major radiation of Australian passerines (Aves: Meliphagoidea)


Symonds, MRE and Johnson, CN, Determinants of local abundance in a major radiation of Australian passerines (Aves: Meliphagoidea), Journal of Biogeography, 33, (5) pp. 794-802. ISSN 0305-0270 (2006) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2005.01432.x


Abstract Aim To identify the factors that contribute to variation in abundance (population density), and to investigate whether habitat breadth and diet breadth predict macroecological patterns in a suborder of passerine birds (Meliphagoidea). Location Australia (including Tasmania). Methods Mean abundance data were collated from site surveys of bird abundance (the Australian Bird Count); range size and latitudinal position data from published distribution maps; and body mass and diet breadth information from published accounts. A diversity index of habitats used (habitat breadth) was calculated from the bird census data. We used bivariate correlation and multiple regression techniques, employing two phylogenetic comparative methods: phylogenetic generalized least squares and independent contrasts. Results Body mass and latitude were the only strong predictors of abundance, with larger-bodied and lower-latitude species existing at lower densities. Together, however, body mass and latitude explained only 11.1% of the variation in mean abundance. Range size and habitat breadth were positively correlated, as were diet breadth and body mass. However, neither range size, nor habitat breadth and diet breadth, explained patterns in abundance either directly or indirectly. Main conclusions Levels of abundance (population density) in meliphagoid birds are most closely linked to body mass and latitudinal position, but not range size. As with many other macroecological analyses, we find little evidence for aspects of niche breadth having an effect on patterns of abundance. We hypothesize that evolutionary age may also have a determining effect on why species tend to be rarer (less abundant) in the tropics.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Abundance;Bergmann's rule;body size;diet breadth;geographical range size;habitat breadth;latitude;Passeriformes;population density;rarity
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:68660
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-03-17
Last Modified:2011-04-07

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