, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 67-79

Altitudinal patterns of plant species richness on the Baekdudaegan Mountains, South Korea: mid-domain effect, area, climate, and Rapoport’s rule

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Abstract

We studied the altitudinal patterns of plant species richness and examined the effects of geometric constraints, area, and climatic factors on the observed richness patterns along the ridge of the Baekdudaegan Mountains, South Korea. Rapoport’s altitudinal rule was evaluated by examining the relationship between altitudinal range size and midpoint. We also examined the latitudinal effect on species richness. Plant data were collected from 1,100 plots along a 200–1,900 m altitudinal gradient along the ridge of the Baekdudaegan. A total of 802 plant species from 97 families and 342 genera were found. The altitudinal patterns of plant species richness along the ridge of the Baekdudaegan depicted distinctly hump-shaped patterns, although the absolute altitudes of the richness peaks vary somewhat among plant groups. While the mid-domain effect (MDE) was the most powerful explanatory variable in simple regression models, species richness was also associated with climatic factors, especially mean annual precipitation (MAP) and temperature (MAT) in multiple regression models. The relative importance of the MDE and climatic factors were different among plant groups. The MDE was more important for woody plants and for large-ranged species, whereas climatic factors were better predictors for total and herbaceous plants and for small-ranged species. Rapoport’s altitudinal rule and a latitudinal effect on species richness were not supported. Our study suggests that a combined interaction of the MDE and climatic factors influences species richness patterns along the altitudinal gradient of the Baekdudaegan Mountains, South Korea.