A necessarily complex model to explain the biogeography of the amphibians and reptiles of Madagascar

Jason L. Brown, Alison Cameron, Anne D. Yoder, Miguel Vences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
553 Downloads (Pure)


Pattern and process are inextricably linked in biogeographic analyses, though we can observe pattern, we must infer process. Inferences of process are often based on ad hoc comparisons using a single spatial predictor. Here, we present an alternative approach that uses mixed-spatial models to measure the predictive potential of combinations of hypotheses. Biodiversity patterns are estimated from 8,362 occurrence records from 745 species of Malagasy amphibians and reptiles. By incorporating 18 spatially explicit predictions of 12 major biogeographic hypotheses, we show that mixed models greatly improve our ability to explain the observed biodiversity patterns. We conclude that patterns are influenced by a combination of diversification processes rather than by a single predominant mechanism. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ model does not exist. By developing a novel method for examining and synthesizing spatial parameters such as species richness, endemism and community similarity, we demonstrate the potential of these analyses for understanding the diversification history of Madagascar’s biota.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5046
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 09 Oct 2014


  • Madagascar
  • Biogeography
  • endemism
  • reptile
  • amphibian
  • evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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