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We review the biogeography of microorganisms in light of the biogeography of macroorganisms. A large body of research supports the idea that free-living microbial taxa exhibit biogeographic patterns. Current evidence confirms that, as proposed by the Baas-Becking hypothesis, 'the environment selects' and is, in part, responsible for spatial variation in(More)
Species abundance distributions (SADs) follow one of ecology's oldest and most universal laws--every community shows a hollow curve or hyperbolic shape on a histogram with many rare species and just a few common species. Here, we review theoretical, empirical and statistical developments in the study of SADs. Several key points emerge. (i) Literally dozens(More)
Power-law frequency distributions characterize a wide array of natural phenomena. In ecology, biology, and many physical and social sciences, the exponents of these power laws are estimated to draw inference about the processes underlying the phenomenon, to test theoretical models, and to scale up from local observations to global patterns. Therefore, it is(More)
The biogeographic variation of life has predominantly been studied using taxonomy, but this focus is changing. There is a resurging interest in understanding patterns in the distribution not only of taxa but also of the traits those taxa possess. Patterns of trait variation shed light on fundamental questions in biology, including why organisms live where(More)
The study of elevational diversity gradients dates back to the foundation of biogeography. Although elevational patterns of plant and animal diversity have been studied for centuries, such patterns have not been reported for microorganisms and remain poorly understood. Here, in an effort to assess the generality of elevational diversity patterns, we(More)
For two centuries, biologists have documented a gradient of animal and plant biodiversity from the tropics to the poles but have been unable to agree whether it is controlled primarily by productivity, temperature, or historical factors. Recent reports that find latitudinal diversity gradients to be reduced or absent in some unicellular organisms and(More)
Ecologists and conservation biologists have historically used species-area and distance-decay relationships as tools to predict the spatial distribution of biodiversity and the impact of habitat loss on biodiversity. These tools treat each species as evolutionarily equivalent, yet the importance of species' evolutionary history in their ecology and(More)
Genomic approaches to characterizing bacterial communities are revealing significant differences in diversity and composition between environments. But bacterial distributions have not been mapped at a global scale. Although current community surveys are way too sparse to map global diversity patterns directly, there is now sufficient data to fit accurate(More)
Patterns in the spatial distribution of organisms provide important information about mechanisms that regulate the diversity of life and the complexity of ecosystems. Although microorganisms may comprise much of the Earth's biodiversity and have critical roles in biogeochemistry and ecosystem functioning, little is known about their spatial diversification.(More)