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Macroecological patterns of spider species richness across Europe

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We analysed the pattern of covariation of European spider species richness with various environmental variables at different scales. Four layers of perception ranging from single investigation sites to the whole European continent were selected. Species richness was determined using published data from all four scales. Correlation analyses and stepwise multiple linear regression were used to relate richness to topographic, climatic and biotic variables. Up to nine environmental variables were included in the analyses (area, latitude, elevation range, mean annual temperature, local variation in mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, mean July temperature, local variation in mean July temperature, plant species richness). At the local and at the continental scale, no significant correlations with surface area were found, whereas at the landscape and regional scale, surface area had a significant positive effect on species richness. Factors that were positively correlated with species richness at both broader scales were plant species richness, elevation range, and specific temperature variables (regional scale: local variation in mean annual, and mean July temperature; continental scale: mean July temperature). Latitude was significantly negatively correlated with the species richness at the continental scale. Multiple models for spider species richness data accounted for up to 77% of the total variance in spider species richness data. Furthermore, multiple models explained variation in plant species richness up to 79% through the variables mean July temperature and elevation range. We conclude that these first continental wide analyses grasp the overall pattern in spider species richness of Europe quite well, although some of the observed patterns are not directly causal. Climatic variables are expected to be among the most important direct factors, although other variables (e.g. elevation range, plant species richness) are important (surrogate) correlates of spider species richness.

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We thank R. Biedermann (Oldenburg) and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript and for statistical advice.

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Correspondence to O.-D. Finch.



Appendix 1 Number of spider species at the local, landscape (East Frisian Island chain), regional (German federal states) and at the continental scale (European countries)

Appendix 2

Reference list of the publications used for the species richness data on European spiders.

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Finch, O., Blick, T. & Schuldt, A. Macroecological patterns of spider species richness across Europe. Biodivers Conserv 17, 2849–2868 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-008-9400-x

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  • Araneae
  • Biodiversity
  • Diversity gradients
  • Environmental variables
  • Species richness determinants