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The role of climate for the range limits of parapatric European land salamanders


Werner, Philine; Lötters, Stefan; Schmidt, Benedikt R; Engler, Jan O; Rödder, Dennis (2013). The role of climate for the range limits of parapatric European land salamanders. Ecography, 36(10):1127-1137.

Abstract

Abrupt range limits of parapatric species may serve as a model system to understand the factors that determine species’ range borders. Theory suggests that parapatric range limits can be caused by abiotic conditions along environmental gradients, biotic interactions or a combination of both. Geographic ranges of the parapatric salamanders, Salamandra salamandra and S. atra, meet in small contact zones in the European Alps and to date, the cause of parapatry and the restricted range of S. atra remain elusive. We combine multivariate approaches and climatic data analysis to explore niche differentiation among the two salamanders with respect to the available climatic environment at their contact zones. Our purpose is to evaluate whether climatic conditions explain the species’ sharp range limits or if biotic interactions may play a role for range delimitation. Analyses were carried out in three contact zones in Switzerland to assess possible geographic variation. Our results indicate that both species occur at localities with different climatic conditions as well as the presence of a strong climatic gradient across the species’ range limits. Although the species’ climatic niches differ moderately (with a wider niche breadth for S. atra), interspecific niche overlap is found. Comparisons among the contact zones confirm geographic variation in the species’ climatic niches as well as in the conditions within the geographically available space. Our results suggest that the change in climatic conditions along the recognized gradient represents a determining factor for species’ range limits within contact zones. However, our analyses of geographic variation in climatic conditions reveal that both salamander species can occur in a much wider range of conditions than observed within contact zones. This finding and the interspecific climatic niche overlap within each contact zone provides indirect evidence that biotic interactions (likely competition) between the two species may also determine their range limits.

Abstract

Abrupt range limits of parapatric species may serve as a model system to understand the factors that determine species’ range borders. Theory suggests that parapatric range limits can be caused by abiotic conditions along environmental gradients, biotic interactions or a combination of both. Geographic ranges of the parapatric salamanders, Salamandra salamandra and S. atra, meet in small contact zones in the European Alps and to date, the cause of parapatry and the restricted range of S. atra remain elusive. We combine multivariate approaches and climatic data analysis to explore niche differentiation among the two salamanders with respect to the available climatic environment at their contact zones. Our purpose is to evaluate whether climatic conditions explain the species’ sharp range limits or if biotic interactions may play a role for range delimitation. Analyses were carried out in three contact zones in Switzerland to assess possible geographic variation. Our results indicate that both species occur at localities with different climatic conditions as well as the presence of a strong climatic gradient across the species’ range limits. Although the species’ climatic niches differ moderately (with a wider niche breadth for S. atra), interspecific niche overlap is found. Comparisons among the contact zones confirm geographic variation in the species’ climatic niches as well as in the conditions within the geographically available space. Our results suggest that the change in climatic conditions along the recognized gradient represents a determining factor for species’ range limits within contact zones. However, our analyses of geographic variation in climatic conditions reveal that both salamander species can occur in a much wider range of conditions than observed within contact zones. This finding and the interspecific climatic niche overlap within each contact zone provides indirect evidence that biotic interactions (likely competition) between the two species may also determine their range limits.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:amphibian, salamander, Salamandra, range edge, climate, competition, parapatry
Language:English
Date:October 2013
Deposited On:25 Sep 2013 06:03
Last Modified:30 Nov 2018 08:27
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0906-7590
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00242.x

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