Despite the increasing interest in elevational patterns in biodiversity, few studies have investigated variations in life forms and biogeographical composition, especially in the Mediterranean biome. We investigated elevational patterns in species richness, biogeographical composition (chorotypes) and life forms (Raunkiaer classification) along an elevational gradient in a Mediterranean mountain (Central Italy). We found a general hump‐shaped pattern of species richness, which can be explained by harsher conditions at the lowest and highest elevations. This pattern is distinctly related to prevalence at mid elevations of species with European and Euro‐Asiatic distribution, which are favored by a temperate climate. Phanerophytes and geophytes (which are mainly associated with woods) were concentrated at mid elevations where woodlands prevail. Hemicrypto-phytes increased with elevation, consistently with their ability to cope with high altitude climatic conditions. Mediterranean species declined with elevation because they are negatively affected by decreasing temperatures. Chamaephytes showed a U‐shaped pattern, suggesting they are able to cope with arid and cold conditions at the extremes of the gradient. Endemics increased with elevation because of their association with mountainous areas as key places for endemism evolution. These results illustrate how elevational patterns in species richness, biogeographical composition and life forms are interrelated and demonstrate reciprocal insights for understanding current vegetation settings.

Variations in plant richness, biogeographical composition, and life forms along an elevational gradient in a mediterranean mountain

Di Biase L.;Pace L.;Mantoni C.;Fattorini S.
2021

Abstract

Despite the increasing interest in elevational patterns in biodiversity, few studies have investigated variations in life forms and biogeographical composition, especially in the Mediterranean biome. We investigated elevational patterns in species richness, biogeographical composition (chorotypes) and life forms (Raunkiaer classification) along an elevational gradient in a Mediterranean mountain (Central Italy). We found a general hump‐shaped pattern of species richness, which can be explained by harsher conditions at the lowest and highest elevations. This pattern is distinctly related to prevalence at mid elevations of species with European and Euro‐Asiatic distribution, which are favored by a temperate climate. Phanerophytes and geophytes (which are mainly associated with woods) were concentrated at mid elevations where woodlands prevail. Hemicrypto-phytes increased with elevation, consistently with their ability to cope with high altitude climatic conditions. Mediterranean species declined with elevation because they are negatively affected by decreasing temperatures. Chamaephytes showed a U‐shaped pattern, suggesting they are able to cope with arid and cold conditions at the extremes of the gradient. Endemics increased with elevation because of their association with mountainous areas as key places for endemism evolution. These results illustrate how elevational patterns in species richness, biogeographical composition and life forms are interrelated and demonstrate reciprocal insights for understanding current vegetation settings.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/172214
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