We used geographic ranges of North American shrews and environmental data to better understand spatial distribution of species richness in the Soricidae. Richness was examined as a function of latitude and longitude and was compared with climatic variables at random points (≥90 km apart). Latitudinal trend in richness was parabolic with a maximum near 48°N, consistent with the general hypothesis that diversity is limited by energy to the north and by moisture to the south. Precipitation, snowfall, and July heating degree days were positively related to shrew richness. Richness of North American Soricidae was high in areas where topographic relief allowed for a variety of forested habitats and precipitation was high, such as the Southern Appalachians and Pacific Northwest. This broad, geographic study supports the idea that environmental moisture importantly limits distributions of shrews, which has been suggested by much autecological work in this group.
- Geographic information systems
- North America