Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ana C. Carnaval

Committee Members

Robert P. Anderson

Brian T. Smith

Thiago S. Silva

Carlos Garcia-Robledo

Subject Categories

Biodiversity | Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


biodiversity dimensions, atlantic forest, environments, functional diversity, phylogenetic diversity


Understanding how biodiversity is distributed in geography is essential for conservation. This requires an understanding of the multiple dimensions of biodiversity: species, their ecological functions, and their evolutionary history. For my Ph.D. dissertation, I devised a study to explore the environmental drivers of biodiversity patterns in Neotropical species. I first investigated broad macroecological patterns in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, combining occurrence data and phylogenetic information from multiple clades of animals and plants (Chapter 1). I discovered that one can accurately predict the accumulation of species richness and phylogenetic diversity based on current climatic descriptors – particularly precipitation – but not phylogenetic endemism. Building upon those results, I created and tested a modeling framework to describe and predict local changes in species richness and phylogenetic diversity in near-real time, based on environmental data gathered periodically through remote sensing (Chapter 2). Those models worked best for groups with widely distributed species, and for taxa known to be most sensitive to environmental conditions. Finally, I focused on local amphibian communities to ask how patterns of functional diversity compare with those of species and phylogenetic diversity across elevational and latitudinal gradients. By analyzing the mismatch between those metrics, I was able to identify areas of the forest where environmental filtering, competition, or contact of distinct species pools appear more relevant to the process of community assembly (Chapter 3)

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