Small islands represent a common feature in the Mediterranean and host a significant fraction of its biodiversity. However, the distribution of plant species richness across spatial scales—from local communities (alpha) to whole islands (gamma)—is largely unknown, and so is the influence of environmental, geographical, and topographical factors. By building upon classic biogeographic theory, we used the species–area relationship and about 4500 vegetation plots in 54 Central Mediterranean small islands to identify hotspots of plant species richness and the underlying spatial determinants across scales. To do so, we fitted and averaged eight species–area models on gamma and alpha richness against island area and plot size, respectively. Based on positive deviations from the fitted curves, we identified 12 islands as cross-scale hotspots. These islands encompassed around 70% of species and habitat richness, as well as almost 50% of the rarest species in the data set, while occupying less than 40% of the total island surface. By fitting generalized linear mixed models, we found that gamma richness was mainly explained by island area and was weakly related to mean annual temperature (positively) and annual precipitation (negatively). As for alpha richness, after accounting for the idiosyncratic effect of habitats and islands, plot size and gamma richness remained the only significant predictors, showing a positive relationship. This work contributes to the understanding of the patterns and drivers of plant diversity in Central Mediterranean small islands and outlines a useful methodology for the prioritization of conservation efforts.

Plant species richness hotspots and related drivers across spatial scales in small Mediterranean islands

Di Musciano M.;
2024-01-01

Abstract

Small islands represent a common feature in the Mediterranean and host a significant fraction of its biodiversity. However, the distribution of plant species richness across spatial scales—from local communities (alpha) to whole islands (gamma)—is largely unknown, and so is the influence of environmental, geographical, and topographical factors. By building upon classic biogeographic theory, we used the species–area relationship and about 4500 vegetation plots in 54 Central Mediterranean small islands to identify hotspots of plant species richness and the underlying spatial determinants across scales. To do so, we fitted and averaged eight species–area models on gamma and alpha richness against island area and plot size, respectively. Based on positive deviations from the fitted curves, we identified 12 islands as cross-scale hotspots. These islands encompassed around 70% of species and habitat richness, as well as almost 50% of the rarest species in the data set, while occupying less than 40% of the total island surface. By fitting generalized linear mixed models, we found that gamma richness was mainly explained by island area and was weakly related to mean annual temperature (positively) and annual precipitation (negatively). As for alpha richness, after accounting for the idiosyncratic effect of habitats and islands, plot size and gamma richness remained the only significant predictors, showing a positive relationship. This work contributes to the understanding of the patterns and drivers of plant diversity in Central Mediterranean small islands and outlines a useful methodology for the prioritization of conservation efforts.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/234919
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