Evol Ecol Res 12: 217-233 (2010)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Precipitation and large herbivorous mammals I: estimates from present-day communities

J.T. Eronen1,2, K. Puolamäki3, L. Liu1,4, K. Lintulaakso1, J. Damuth5, C. Janis6 and M. Fortelius1,7

1Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, 2Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, 3Department of Media Technology, Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki, Finland, 4Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China, 5Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA,  6Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA and  7Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence: J.T. Eronen, Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, PO Box 64, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
e-mail: jussi.t.eronen@helsinki.fi


Question: How can mammalian community characteristics be used to estimate regional precipitation?

Data: Global distribution data of large mammals and their ecomorphology; global climate data.

Research methods: Non-linear regression-tree analysis and linear regression.

Conclusions: The methods unravelled the complex relationships between the environment and the characteristics of mammalian communities. The regression trees described here provide a reasonably accurate estimate of precipitation values for today’s world. The strongest correlations are for annual precipitation versus diet (R 2 = 0.665), precipitation versus tooth crown height (R 2 = 0.658), and precipitation versus diet and tooth crown height combined (R 2 = 0.742)

Keywords: climate, community structure, decision trees, herbivorous mammals, hypsodonty, precipitation.

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