The contribution of common and rare species to plant species richness patterns: the effect of habitat type and size of sampling unit
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Mazaris, A.D., Tzanopoulos, J., Kallimanis, A.S. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2008) 17: 3567. doi:10.1007/s10531-008-9480-7
Understanding how overall patterns of spatial variation in species richness are affected by distributional patterns of species has been an area of growing concern. In the present study, we investigated the relative importance of common and rare species as contributors in overall plant species richness. We further examined if the effects of common or rare species in richness patterns are affected by the size of the sampling units and if the observed patterns hold at different habitats. We used a dataset of 5,148 higher plant species distributed across 16,114 sampling plots located in 240 sites of the NATURA 2000 network of Greece. We ranked all species based on the number of sites they occupied and we developed a common to rare and a rare to common sequence. We correlated those sequences with cumulative species distributions. We performed this analysis in nine different sizes of sampling units and in three different datasets referring to (a) all habitat types together, (b) coniferous habitats only and (c) alpine habitats only. Our analysis showed that despite the proportionally higher numbers of restricted species, widespread species make a greater contribution to overall richness patterns and that this observed pattern does not depend on the size of the sampling units. Moreover, the observed pattern stands for different habitat types. Our findings support the generality of this pattern and highlight the importance of widespread species as adequate indicators of biodiversity patterns at various habitat types.