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The effect of area on local and regional elevational patterns of species richness

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Abstract Aim 

To calculate the degree to which differences between local and regional elevational species richness patterns can be accounted for by the effects of regional area. Location 

Five elevational transects in Costa Rica, Ecuador, La Réunion, Mexico and Tanzania. Methods 

We sampled ferns in standardized field plots and collated regional species lists based on herbarium and literature data. We then used the Arrhenius function S = cA z to correct regional species richness (S) for the effect of area (A) using three slightly different approaches, and compared the concordance of local and regional patterns prior to and after accounting for the effect of area on regional richness using linear regression analyses. Results 

We found a better concordance between local and regional elevational species richness after including the effect of area in the majority of cases. In several cases, local and regional patterns are very similar after accounting for area. In most of the cases, the maximum regional richness shifted to a higher elevation after accounting for area. Different approaches to correct for area resulted in qualitatively similar results. Main conclusions 

The differences between local and regional elevational richness patterns can at least partly be accounted for by area effects, suggesting that the underlying causes of elevational richness patterns might be the same at both spatial scales. Values used to account for the effect of area differ among the different study locations, showing that there is no generally applicable elevational species–area relationship.
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Keywords: Altitude; diversity; ferns; local diversity; pteridophytes; regional diversity; species–area relationship; tropical mountains

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Zollikerstrae 107, CH-8008 Zurich, Switzerland 2: Centro de Investigaciones Tropicales, Universidad Veracruzana, Interior de la Ex-hacienda Lucas Martín, Privada de Araucarias s/n, Col. 21 de Marzo, C.P. 91019 Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico 3: Ecological Botanical Garden, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstraße 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany 4: Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Am Löwentor, Rosenstein 1, D-70191 Stuttgart, Germany

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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