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1.  Diversity patterns of selected Andean plant groups correspond to topography and habitat dynamics, not orogeny 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:351.
The tropical Andes are a hotspot of biodiversity, but detailed altitudinal and latitudinal distribution patterns of species are poorly understood. We compare the distribution and diversity patterns of four Andean plant groups on the basis of georeferenced specimen data: the genus Nasa (Loasaceae), the two South American sections of Ribes (sect. Parilla and sect. Andina, Grossulariaceae), and the American clade of Urtica (Urticaceae). In the tropical Andes, these often grow together, especially in (naturally or anthropogenically) disturbed or secondary vegetation at middle to upper elevations. The climatic niches of the tropical groups studied here are relatively similar in temperature and temperature seasonality, but do differ in moisture seasonality. The Amotape–Huancabamba Zone (AHZ) between 3 and 8° S shows a clear diversity peak of overall species richness as well as for narrowly endemic species across the groups studied. For Nasa, we also show a particular diversity of growth forms in the AHZ. This can be interpreted as proxy for a high diversity of ecological niches based on high spatial habitat heterogeneity in this zone. Latitudinal ranges are generally larger toward the margins of overall range of the group. Species number and number of endemic species of our taxa peak at elevations of 2,500–3,500 m in the tropical Andes. Altitudinal diversity patterns correspond well with the altitudinal distribution of slope inclination. We hypothesize that the likelihood and frequency of landslides at steeper slopes translate into temporal habitat heterogeneity. The frequency of landslides may be causally connected to diversification especially for the numerous early colonizing taxa, such as Urtica and annual species of Nasa. In contrast to earlier hypotheses, uplift history is not reflected in the pattern here retrieved, since the AHZ is the area of the most recent Andean uplift. Similarly, a barrier effect of the low-lying Huancabamba depression is not retrieved in our data.
PMCID: PMC4193334  PMID: 25346750
tropical Andes; range size; latitudinal gradient; altitudinal gradient; endemism; plant diversity
2.  Projected impacts of climate change on regional capacities for global plant species richness 
Climate change represents a major challenge to the maintenance of global biodiversity. To date, the direction and magnitude of net changes in the global distribution of plant diversity remain elusive. We use the empirical multi-variate relationships between contemporary water-energy dynamics and other non-climatic predictor variables to model the regional capacity for plant species richness (CSR) and its projected future changes. We find that across all analysed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenarios, relative changes in CSR increase with increased projected temperature rise. Between now and 2100, global average CSR is projected to remain similar to today (+0.3%) under the optimistic B1/+1.8°C scenario, but to decrease significantly (−9.4%) under the ‘business as usual’ A1FI/+4.0°C scenario. Across all modelled scenarios, the magnitude and direction of CSR change are geographically highly non-uniform. While in most temperate and arctic regions, a CSR increase is expected, the projections indicate a strong decline in most tropical and subtropical regions. Countries least responsible for past and present greenhouse gas emissions are likely to incur disproportionately large future losses in CSR, whereas industrialized countries have projected moderate increases. Independent of direction, we infer that all changes in regional CSR will probably induce on-site species turnover and thereby be a threat to native floras.
PMCID: PMC2894901  PMID: 20335215
biodiversity patterns; global warming; water-energy dynamics; water-energy-richness hypothesis
3.  Global associations between terrestrial producer and vertebrate consumer diversity 
In both ecology and conservation, often a strong positive association is assumed between the diversity of plants as primary producers and that of animals, specifically primary consumers. Such a relationship has been observed at small spatial scales, and a begetting of diversity by diversity is expected under various scenarios of co-evolution and co-adaptation. But positive producer–consumer richness relationships may also arise from similar associations with past opportunities for diversification or contemporary environmental conditions, or from emerging properties of plant diversity such as vegetation complexity or productivity. Here we assess whether the producer–consumer richness relationship generalizes from plot to regional scale and provide a first global test of its strength for vascular plants and endothermic vertebrates. We find strong positive richness associations, but only limited congruence of the most diverse regions. The richness of both primary and higher-level consumers increases with plant richness at similar strength and rate. Environmental conditions emerge as much stronger predictors of consumer richness, and after accounting for environmental differences little variation is explained by plant diversity. We conclude that biotic interactions and strong local associations between plants and consumers only relatively weakly scale up to broad geographical scales and to functionally diverse taxa, for which environmental constraints on richness dominate.
PMCID: PMC2674345  PMID: 18832059
biodiversity; plants; vertebrates

Results 1-3 (3)