Hygric Niches for Tropical Endotherms

W. Alice Boyle, Elsie H. Shogren, Jeffrey D. Brawn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biotic selective pressures dominate explanations for the evolutionary ecology of tropical endotherms. Yet, abiotic factors, principally precipitation regimes, shape biogeographical and phenological patterns in tropical regions. Despite its importance, we lack a framework for understanding when, why, and how rain affects endotherms. Here, we review how tropical birds and mammals respond to rain at individual, population, and community levels, and propose a conceptual framework to interpret divergent responses. Diverse direct and indirect mechanisms underlie responses to rainfall, including physiological, top-down, and food-related drivers. Our framework constitutes a roadmap for the empirical studies required to understand the consequences of rainfall variability. Identifying the patterns and mechanisms underpinning responses to temporal variation in precipitation is crucial to anticipate consequences of anthropogenic climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-952
Number of pages15
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • abiotic selection
  • climate change
  • elevational gradients
  • precipitation
  • thermal physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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