Evolutionary history and past climate change shape the distribution of genetic diversity in terrestrial mammals

Knowledge of global patterns of biodiversity, ranging from intraspecific genetic diversity (GD) to taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity, is essential for identifying and conserving the processes that shape the distribution of life. Yet, global patterns of GD and its drivers remain elusive. Here we assess existing biodiversity theories to explain and predict the global distribution of GD in terrestrial mammal assemblages. We find a strong positive covariation between GD and interspecific diversity, with evolutionary time, reflected in phylogenetic diversity, being the best predictor of GD. Moreover, we reveal the negative effect of past rapid climate change and the positive effect of inter-annual precipitation variability in shaping GD. Our models, explaining almost half of the variation in GD globally, uncover the importance of deep evolutionary history and past climate stability in accumulating and maintaining intraspecific diversity, and constitute a crucial step towards reducing the Wallacean shortfall for an important dimension of biodiversity.