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Geographic range structure in North American landbrids: variation with migratory strategy, trophic level, and breeding habitat

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We investigated the relationship between abundance and geographic range structure of 258 North American landbirds. For this purpose we used six measures of range structure based upon fractal geometry and geostatistics, and three ecological characteristics that can influence avian distribution. Permanent residents (PRs) that were abundant showed little fragmentation of their abundance surface at the periphery of their breeding range. Conversely, common Neotropical migrants (NTMs) exhibited low fragmentation of their central populations. The abundance surface was smoother for PRs than NTMs or short-distance migrants (SDMs), indicating that changes in abundance occurred more gradually across space for this group. The areas of high abundance for grassland species had little demographic fragmentation, but other populations showed little spatial autocorrelation in abundance. Species that bred in late-successional forests were relatively rare compared to species breeding in other habitat types. Among carnivores, PRs had a higher average abundance than either NTMs or SDMs. Although carnivores had more distributional gaps within their ranges than other trophic groups, the number of gaps did not differ between rare and abundant species, indicating that increased abundance did not change their presence/absence distribution maps. Knowledge of patterns and variations of geographic range structure among species may provide insights into processes that shape and maintain the biodiversity of a continent.

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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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