Although classifications of the Earth's climates date back to the ancient Greeks, the climatic regions shaping the distribution of animals remain poorly resolved. Here we present a classification of global climates based on regularities in realised niches of 3657 amphibians, 7204 reptiles, 10684 birds and 4574 mammals. We found 16 main climatic regions that are mostly consistent across groups and previous plant expert-based classifications, confirming the existence of major climatic restrictions for life. The results also suggest that differences among groups likely relate to their particular adaptations and dispersal capabilities. We further show how the integration of species niche classifications with geographical information provides valuable information on potential mechanisms shaping the climatic regions. Our climate classification has applications in several disciplines, including conservation planning and ecological and evolutionary studies.
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