Comparison of climate space and phylogeny of Marmota (Mammalia : Rodentia) indicates a connection between evolutionary history and climate preference
- Author(s): Davis, E B
- et al.
Palaeobiologists have investigated the evolutionary responses of extinct organisms to climate change, and have also used extinct organisms to reconstruct palaeoclimates. There is evidence of a disconnection between climate change and evolution that suggests that organisms may not be accurate palaeoclimate indicators. Here, marmots (Marmota sp.) are used as a case study to examine whether similarity of climate preferences is correlated with evolutionary relatedness of species. This study tests for a relationship between phylogenetic distance and 'climate distance' of species within a clade. There should be a significant congruence between maximum likelihood distance and standardized Euclidian distance between climates if daughter species tend to stay in environments similar to parent species. Marmots make a good test case because there are many extant species, their phylogenies are well established and individual survival is linked to climatic factors. A Mantel test indicates a significant correlation between climate and phylogenetic distance matrices, but this relationship explains only a small fraction of the variance (regression R2 = 0.114). These results suggest that (i) closely related species of marmots tend to stay in similar environments; (ii) marmots may be more susceptible than many mammals to global climate change; and (iii) because of the considerable noise in this system, the correlation cannot be used for detailed palaeoclimate reconstruction.