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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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Buildings are complex ecosystems that house trillions of microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans and with their environment. Understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that determine the diversity and composition of the built environment microbiome--the community of microorganisms that live indoors--is important for(More)
The abundance of different SSU rRNA ("16S") gene sequences in environmental samples is widely used in studies of microbial ecology as a measure of microbial community structure and diversity. However, the genomic copy number of the 16S gene varies greatly - from one in many species to up to 15 in some bacteria and to hundreds in some microbial eukaryotes.(More)