Robust metagenomic evidence that local assemblage richness increases with latitude in ground-active invertebrates of North America

Michael D. Weiser, Cameron D. Siler, Sierra N. Smith, Katie E. Marshall, Jessica F. McLaughlin, Matthew J. Miller, Michael Kaspari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Biodiversity monitoring is imperative for understanding how changing climate may impact the distributions of taxa from single species to the spatial distribution of biological diversity. Large-scale and cross-taxa biodiversity monitoring also allows an empirical understanding of biogeographic patterns across taxa. One such pattern, where in taxonomic richness peaks at tropical latitudes are typically treated as a biogeographical rule with few notable exceptions. Here we leveraged the invertebrate pitfall collections of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) across North America to describe patterns of local taxonomic richness across taxa and across taxonomic scale. We focused on Arthropoda, Annelida and Mollusca. Additionally, we estimated regional species richness using expert-identified samples of three NEON sentinel taxa: Carabidae, Culicidae and Ixodida. To sample pitfall animals, we filtered storage ethanol and employed environmental DNA-barcoding methodologies to amplify and sequence extracted DNA from the filtrate for two regions of a mitochondrial gene. We assigned taxonomic names to these sequences at 97% similarity to reference sequences and calculated local taxonomic richness at the levels of species, genus, family and order. We calculated local species richness for 12 common invertebrate taxa. We used generalized linear models to describe the relationships between taxonomic richness and spatial, climatic and abundance predictor variables. At four taxonomic scales, ranging from species to order, taxonomic richnessincreased significantly as a function of latitude. Of the twelve invertebrate taxa weexamined, seven mirrored this positive latitudinal gradient in species richness. At theregional scale, two of three NEON Sentinel Taxa showed positive latitudinal gradientsin species richness. Temperature, precipitation, abundance and sequence read numberplayed minor roles in explaining patterns of taxonomic richness. When considering these mostly temperate sites that span 46 degrees of latitude, we found no support for the expected negative latitudinal gradients across taxa and taxonomic scales. Instead, for many of these taxa and taxonomic scales, we observed significant, positive richness gradients with increasing latitude among ground-dwelling invertebrate communities. Thus, one of the most ‘general' patterns in biogeography was not found for most invertebrate taxa across temperate latitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere08791
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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