The spatial distribution of species is affected by dispersal barriers, local environmental conditions and climate. However, the effect of species dispersal and their adaptation to the environment across geographic scales is poorly understood. To investigate the distribution of species from local to broad geographic scales, we sampled termites in 198 transects distributed in 13 sampling grids in the Brazilian Amazonian forest. The sampling grids encompassed an area of 271 500 km2 and included the five major biogeographic regions delimited by Amazonian rivers. Environmental data for each transect were obtained from local measurements and remote sensing. Similar to previous studies, termite species composition at the local scale was mostly associated with measures of soil texture and chemistry. In contrast, termite species composition at broad geographic scales was associated with soil nutrients, and the geographic position of the transects. Between 17 and 30% of the variance in termite species composition could be attributed exclusively to the geographic position of the transects, but could not be attributed to measured environmental variables or the presence of major rivers. Isolation by distance may have strong effects on termite species composition due to historic processes and the spatially structured environments along distinct geological formations of Amazonia. However, in contrast to many taxa in Amazonia, there is no evidence that major rivers are important barriers to termite dispersal.
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© 2016 The Authors.
Dambros CS, Morais JW, Azevedo RA, Gotelli NJ. Isolation by distance, not rivers, control the distribution of termite species in the Amazonian rain forest. Ecography. 2017 Oct;40(10):1242-50.