Is the Taxonomic Composition of Landbird Communities in Mexico Predictable?

Héctor Gómez de Silva*
Huatusco 13, Departamento 5; C.P. 06760 – México, D.F. Mexico

© 2009 Héctor Gómez de Silva

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Huatusco 13, Departamento 5; C.P. 06760 – México, D.F. Mexico; Tel: + (52) (55) 55 74 00 20; E-mail: and


Some bird families are more widespread than others both in geography and in habitat use (high-incidence families). The number of Mexican species in a bird family was found to be strongly correlated with the number of communities that possess representatives of that family. This effect did not result from a higher probability of larger families having more widespread species or having species with broader diets or habitat preferences, nor from body size, abundance or clutch size, other factors which tend to correlate with the incidence of species. Instead, number of species per se (a trait of families) strongly influenced family incidence and thereby community composition. Therefore, community composition is influenced not only by ecological assembly rules at the species level, but also by the result of macroevolutionary processes above the species level. This pattern may be related to species-area curves and provides an opportunity for coevolution to occur even in situations in which species-specific coadaptation is not possible. This pattern increases the predictability of species composition of communities.