The latitudinal gradient in niche breadth: concepts and evidence.

Diego P. Vázquez, Richard D. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


We examine Robert MacArthur's hypothesis that niche breadth is positively associated with latitude (the latitude-niche breadth hypothesis). This idea has been influential and long standing, yet no studies have evaluated its generality or the validity of its assumptions. We review the theoretical arguments suggesting a positive relationship between niche breadth and latitude. We also use available evidence to evaluate the assumptions and predictions of MacArthur's latitude-niche breadth hypothesis. We find that neither the assumptions nor the predictions of the hypothesis are supported by data. We propose an alternative hypothesis linking latitude with niche breadth. Unlike previous ideas, our conceptual framework does not require equilibrial assumptions and is based on recently uncovered patterns of species interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1-19
JournalThe American naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


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