Biotic interactions are believed to play a role in the origin and maintenance of species diversity, and multiple hypotheses link the latitudinal diversity gradient to a presumed gradient in the importance of biotic interactions. Here we address whether biotic interactions are more important at low latitudes, finding support for this hypothesis from a wide range of interactions. Some of the best-supported examples are higher herbivory and insect predation in the tropics, and predominantly tropical mutualisms such as cleaning symbioses and ant-plant interactions. For studies that included tropical regions, biotic interactions were never more important at high latitudes. Although our results support the hypothesis that biotic interactions are more important in the tropics, additional research is needed, including latitudinal comparisons of rates of molecular evolution for genes involved in biotic interactions, estimates of gradients in interaction strength, and phylogenetic comparisons of the traits that mediate biotic interactions.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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