Functional traits explain amphibian distribution in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Ricardo Lourenço-de-Moraes, Felipe S. Campos, Rodrigo B. Ferreira, Karen H. Beard, Mirco Solé, Gustavo A. Llorente, Rogério P. Bastos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Aim: Species distributions are one of the most important ways to understand how communities interact through macroecological relationships. The functional abilities of a species, such as its plasticity in various environments, can determine its distribution, species richness and beta diversity patterns. In this study, we evaluate how functional traits influence the distribution of amphibians, and hypothesize which functional traits explain the current pattern of amphibian species composition. Location: Atlantic Forest, Brazil. Taxon: Amphibia (Anura and Gymnophiona). Methods: Using potential distributions of Brazilian amphibians from Atlantic Forest based on their functional traits, we analysed the influence of biotic and abiotic factors on species richness, endemism (with permutation multivariate analysis) and beta diversity components (i.e. total, turnover and nestedness dissimilarities). Results: Environmental variables explained 59.5% of species richness, whereas functional traits explained 15.8% of species distribution (geographical species range) for Anuran and 88.8% for Gymnophiona. Body size had the strongest correlation with species distribution. Results showed that species with medium to large body size, and species that are adapted to living in open areas tended to disperse from west to east direction. Current forest changes directly affected beta diversity patterns (i.e. most species adapted to novel environments increase their ranges). Beta diversity partitioning between humid and dry forests showed decreased nestedness and increased turnover by increasing altitude in the south-eastern region of the Atlantic Forest. Main Conclusions: Our study shows that functional traits directly influence the ability of the species to disperse. With the alterations of the natural environment, species more apt to these alterations have dispersed or increased their distribution, which consequently changes community structure. As a result, there are nested species distribution patterns and homogenization of amphibian species composition throughout the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-287
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number1
Early online date17 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Anura
  • beta diversity partitioning
  • conservation
  • functional abilities
  • Gymnophiona
  • spatial distribution

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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