Aim: Species–area relationships (SARs) are among the best investigated patterns in ecology, yet the shape of the function that should describe SARs and the biological meaning of the function parameters are disputed. Elevational gradients offer the opportunity of investigating how biodiversity responds to large variations in environmental characteristics within small geographical areas. We asked which function describes SARs at different elevations and explored how variations in environmental characteristics influence SAR shape. Location: Alborz Mountains (Iran). Taxon: Vascular plants. Methods: We used sets of nested plots (0.001 to 100 m2) placed at 100 m intervals from 2,000 to 4,500 m elevation to construct series of nested SARs as species accumulation curves. Then, we used these curves to assess the appropriateness of different SAR functions at different elevations. We investigated how parameters of the power function varied along the elevational gradient in response to variation in environmental parameters (ruggedness, temperature, precipitation, exposed rock, percentages of soil sand and total nitrogen, and productivity, expressed by the normalized difference vegetation index). Results: The most frequently observed best fit model was the power function, which is controlled by two parameters: z (the velocity in species accumulation with sampled area) and c (the species richness per unit area). z was positively influenced by temperature and soil nitrogen, decreasing with elevation. c was positively influenced by temperature and soil nitrogen, and negatively by rock cover, decreasing with elevation. Main conclusions: The decrease in c-values with elevation is consistent with the altitudinal decrease in species richness and is explained by the increase in bare rock. By contrast, c was positively influenced by temperature and total nitrogen, which are two factors promoting plant growth. Similarly, z-values decreased with elevation, thus indicating a decrease in beta diversity.

Influence of elevation on the species–area relationship

Fattorini S.;
2020

Abstract

Aim: Species–area relationships (SARs) are among the best investigated patterns in ecology, yet the shape of the function that should describe SARs and the biological meaning of the function parameters are disputed. Elevational gradients offer the opportunity of investigating how biodiversity responds to large variations in environmental characteristics within small geographical areas. We asked which function describes SARs at different elevations and explored how variations in environmental characteristics influence SAR shape. Location: Alborz Mountains (Iran). Taxon: Vascular plants. Methods: We used sets of nested plots (0.001 to 100 m2) placed at 100 m intervals from 2,000 to 4,500 m elevation to construct series of nested SARs as species accumulation curves. Then, we used these curves to assess the appropriateness of different SAR functions at different elevations. We investigated how parameters of the power function varied along the elevational gradient in response to variation in environmental parameters (ruggedness, temperature, precipitation, exposed rock, percentages of soil sand and total nitrogen, and productivity, expressed by the normalized difference vegetation index). Results: The most frequently observed best fit model was the power function, which is controlled by two parameters: z (the velocity in species accumulation with sampled area) and c (the species richness per unit area). z was positively influenced by temperature and soil nitrogen, decreasing with elevation. c was positively influenced by temperature and soil nitrogen, and negatively by rock cover, decreasing with elevation. Main conclusions: The decrease in c-values with elevation is consistent with the altitudinal decrease in species richness and is explained by the increase in bare rock. By contrast, c was positively influenced by temperature and total nitrogen, which are two factors promoting plant growth. Similarly, z-values decreased with elevation, thus indicating a decrease in beta diversity.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/150384
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