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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 699–716 | Cite as

Elevational patterns of species richness and endemism for some important taxa in the Hengduan Mountains, southwestern China

  • Da-Cai Zhang
  • Yong-Hong Zhang
  • David E. Boufford
  • Hang SunEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

We describe the elevational patterns of species richness and endemism of some important taxa in the Hengduan Mountains, southwest China. Species richness data came from publications, an online database, herbaria and field work. Species richness was estimated by rarefaction and interpolation. The Hengduan Mountains region was divided into a southern and northern subregion, and all species were assigned to four groups based on their distributional range within this region. The conditional autoregressive model (CAR) was used to relate species richness and explanatory variables. The elevational patterns of total, endemic and non-endemic species richness, at subregion and entire region scales, presented to be unimodal and peaked at similar elevations. Area size was strongly related with species richness, and was more powerful in explaining variation in species richness in the northern subregion than in the southern subregion. A single climatic variable (mean annual rainfall, potential evapotranspiration or moisture index) showed a weak relationship with the elevational pattern of species richness. Area and climatic variables together explained more than 67% of the variation in non-endemic richness, 53% in total richness, and 50% in endemic richness. There were three patterns of endemism at the generic level with increasing elevation: namely endemism increased, decreased, or peaked at middle elevations. All selected taxa have experienced rapid speciation and evolution within this region, which plays an important role in the uniform elevational patterns of total, endemic and non-endemic richness, and in the multiform elevational patterns of endemism.

Keywords

Area Basal taxa Climatic variables Dispersal of species Endemic species Unimodal pattern 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are indebted to Roy Turkington and Susan Kelley for editing the manuscript. The manuscript was improved from comments by reviewers and Richard H. Ree. This study was supported by grants from the National 973 Project (grant no. 2007CB411601), the Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 30625004, 40771073 to H. Sun), and the Fund of Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming institute of botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant no. 0806331121), and the U.S. National Science Foundation (grant no. DEB-0321846 to David E. Boufford).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Da-Cai Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yong-Hong Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • David E. Boufford
    • 3
  • Hang Sun
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.HerbariaHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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