Data from: Global biogeographic patterns of avian morphological diversity.
Data supporting manuscript: Hughes, E.C., Edwards, D.P., Bright, J.A., Capp, E.J.R., Cooney, C.R., Varley, Z.K. & Thomas, G.H. Global biogeographic patterns of avian morphological diversity. Ecology Letters.
Understanding the biogeographical patterns, and evolutionary and ecological drivers, underpinning morphological diversity are key for determining its origins and conservation. Using a comprehensive set of continuous morphological traits extracted from museum collections of 8353 bird species, including geometric morphometric beak shape data, we find that avian morphological diversity is unevenly distributed globally, even after controlling for species richness, with exceptionally dense packing of species in hyper-diverse tropical hotspots. At the regional level, these areas also have high morphological variance, with species exhibiting high phenotypic diversity. Evolutionary history likely plays a key role in shaping these patterns, with evolutionarily old species contributing to niche expansion, and young species contributing to niche packing. Taken together, these results imply that the tropics are both ‘cradles’ and ‘museums’ of phenotypic diversity.
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