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Elevational gradients in the neotropical table mountains: patterns of endemism and implications for conservation

Elevational gradients in the neotropical table mountains: patterns of endemism and implications for conservation
Elevational gradients in the neotropical table mountains: patterns of endemism and implications for conservation

Aim: The aim of the present study was to describe the diversity patterns along elevational gradients that are crucial for conservation management and for understanding diversification processes in montane environments. This article analyses the distributional range and elevation patterns of endemic and non-endemic (NE) vascular plants living on a unique set of Neotropical table mountains (tepuis). To investigate the potential causes of the high degree of diversity and endemism we tested the role of elevation, area and the mid-domain effect (MDE). We also aimed to discuss the origin of the current tepuian biota. Location: The Guayana Highlands (northern South America). Emphasis is placed on the mountaintops above 1500 m elevation, which form the highly biodiverse Pantepui biogeographical province. Methods: We examined the distribution patterns of vascular plant species richness in relation to elevation, area, and the MDE using generalized additive models. We used Range Model for the MDE. Results: We found that regional endemics richness show a hump-shaped curve in relation to elevation. Single-tepui endemics (STE) increase with elevation, whereas NE and total species richness decrease. Area and MDE influence this pattern for Pantepui and STE, but not for NE. We also observed that the spatial distribution of endemic richness displays a left-skewed distribution pattern due to the dominance of STE. Main conclusions: Our results demonstrate that a combination of elevation, area and MDE provide a basic explanation for the diversity of vascular plants in Pantepui. In addition, the present study indicates that maxima of STE are located at the highest altitudes, where the possibility of biotic connection (via migration) and gene flux has been minimal, even during glacial phases when most migration pathways amongst the tepui mountains were open. We also suggest that climatic filtering due to the extreme conditions atop the tepuis and low dispersal capacity stand out as the main drivers of the decline in NE species richness with elevation.

Elevational gradients, Endemism, Generalized additive models, Guayana, Mid-domain effect, Neotropics, Species richness, Vascular plants
1366-9516
676-687
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021
Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa
f1a5df04-58b9-4d16-823c-47c193f63f01
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021
Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa
f1a5df04-58b9-4d16-823c-47c193f63f01

Nogué, Sandra, Rull, Valentí and Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa (2013) Elevational gradients in the neotropical table mountains: patterns of endemism and implications for conservation. Diversity and Distributions, 19 (7), 676-687. (doi:10.1111/ddi.12017).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Aim: The aim of the present study was to describe the diversity patterns along elevational gradients that are crucial for conservation management and for understanding diversification processes in montane environments. This article analyses the distributional range and elevation patterns of endemic and non-endemic (NE) vascular plants living on a unique set of Neotropical table mountains (tepuis). To investigate the potential causes of the high degree of diversity and endemism we tested the role of elevation, area and the mid-domain effect (MDE). We also aimed to discuss the origin of the current tepuian biota. Location: The Guayana Highlands (northern South America). Emphasis is placed on the mountaintops above 1500 m elevation, which form the highly biodiverse Pantepui biogeographical province. Methods: We examined the distribution patterns of vascular plant species richness in relation to elevation, area, and the MDE using generalized additive models. We used Range Model for the MDE. Results: We found that regional endemics richness show a hump-shaped curve in relation to elevation. Single-tepui endemics (STE) increase with elevation, whereas NE and total species richness decrease. Area and MDE influence this pattern for Pantepui and STE, but not for NE. We also observed that the spatial distribution of endemic richness displays a left-skewed distribution pattern due to the dominance of STE. Main conclusions: Our results demonstrate that a combination of elevation, area and MDE provide a basic explanation for the diversity of vascular plants in Pantepui. In addition, the present study indicates that maxima of STE are located at the highest altitudes, where the possibility of biotic connection (via migration) and gene flux has been minimal, even during glacial phases when most migration pathways amongst the tepui mountains were open. We also suggest that climatic filtering due to the extreme conditions atop the tepuis and low dispersal capacity stand out as the main drivers of the decline in NE species richness with elevation.

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More information

Published date: 1 July 2013
Keywords: Elevational gradients, Endemism, Generalized additive models, Guayana, Mid-domain effect, Neotropics, Species richness, Vascular plants

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445910
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445910
ISSN: 1366-9516
PURE UUID: 9cb1d0ab-91c4-4f73-b6f6-bd236ee172ff
ORCID for Sandra Nogué: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0093-4252

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Jan 2021 17:31
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:25

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Contributors

Author: Sandra Nogué ORCID iD
Author: Valentí Rull
Author: Teresa Vegas-Vilarrúbia

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