, Volume 196, Issue 1, pp 143-151
Date: 25 Jul 2007

The scale of analysis determines the spatial pattern of woody species diversity in the Mediterranean environment

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We examine the spatial pattern of woody species diversity at different scales, in two sites of Mt. Holomontas in northern Greece, which falls within the transitional zone between temperate forests and Mediterranean-type ecosystems. We investigate how diversity is distributed in space and whether the perceived pattern changes with the scale of observation. We use two different metrics of diversity: species richness and species turnover. Our main finding is that the spatial pattern of diversity changes with the scale of observation or analysis. For a given scale, the pattern of species richness (alpha diversity) is negatively correlated with the pattern of species turnover (beta diversity). Species-rich areas have more species in common with their neighbors than species-poor areas. The between-scale disparity of the spatial pattern of diversity may be a general feature of ecological systems. For this to be validated, studies with different groups of species in different biomes and in different biogeographical areas are required; our study contributes to this direction providing evidence that this holds true for woody species in Mediterranean communities. Finally, we discuss how these findings might affect important issues in theoretical and applied ecology, such as identifying the environmental factors driving biodiversity.