Ecological determinants of turnover in species richness, functional diversity, and phylogenetic diversity in the diverse and widespread Australian gecko genus Gehyra

Dr Renee Catullo1,2, Prof. Craig Moritz1

1Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2FSP Environomics, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia


Diversity metrics such as species richness, functional diversity, and phylogenetic diversity are regularly suggested as useful methods for determining conservation priorities at regional scales. These measures are often correlated, leading to suggestions that one diversity metric may substitute for another across the landscape. However, many studies find more equivocal correlations between these diversity measures. We therefore seek to better understand the current and historical landscape processes that create the landscape level variation in each diversity metric.

In Australia, the Gehyra geckos are diverse (~55 species), and widespread across tropical and arid regions. Using phylogenetic, spatial, and morphological data from more than 2,000 individuals, we calculate each diversity metric at a continental scale. For each metric, we then assess the ecological drivers of variation. These data will advance our understanding on how these important metrics are influenced by current climate, habitat heterogeneity, and paleoclimatic stability. Correlations between each of these metrics are also explored.

We also assess how the level of functional redundancy across the landscape, by first mathematically determining the number of functional groups in each area, and then by assessing the number of species that contribute to each functional group. In this way we can identify regions more at risk of loss of ecosystem function.


Renee Catullo is a Postdoctoral fellow in Ecology & Evolution at the Australian National University. She studies macroevolution and macroecology of a variety of organisms, but only knows what it is if it is a frog. Renee’s research focuses on how we can utilize a combination of spatial, phylogenetic, and trait data to make informed decisions for conservation and biosecurity.

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