Landscape Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 8, pp 1233–1251 | Cite as

Quantifying determinants contributing to plant species richness in mosaic landscapes: a single- and multi-patch perspective

  • Dietmar Simmering
  • Rainer Waldhardt
  • Annette Otte
Research Article


Despite good theoretical knowledge about determinants of plant species richness in mosaic landscapes, validations based on complete surveys are scarce. We conducted a case study in a highly fragmented, traditional agricultural landscape. In 199 patches of 20 representative multi-patch-plots (MPPs, 1 ha) we recorded a total of 371 plant species. In addition to an additive partitioning of species diversity at the (a) patch- and (b) MPP-scale, we adopted the recently proposed ‘specificity’ measure to quantify the contribution of a spatial subunit to landscape species richness (subunit-to-landscape-contribution, SLC). SLC-values were calculated at both scales with respect to various spatial extents. General regression models were used to quantify the relative importance of hypothesis-driven determinants for species richness and SLC-values.

At the patch scale, habitat type was the main determinant of species richness, followed by area and elongated shape. For SLC-values, area was more important than habitat type, and its relevance increased with the extent of the considered landscape. Influences of elongated shape and vegetation context were minor. Differences between habitat types were pronounced for species richness and also partly scale-dependent for SLC-values.

Relevant predictors at the MPP-scale were nonlinear habitat richness, the gradient from anthropogenic to seminatural vegetation, and the proportions of natural vegetation and rare habitats. Linear elements and habitat configuration did not contribute to species richness and SLC. Results at the MPP-scale were in complete accordance with the predictions of the mosaic concept. Hence, our study represents its first empirical validation for plant species diversity in mosaic landscapes.


Biodiversity Germany Habitat diversity Habitat specificity Linear structures Marginal landscape Conservation value Modelling Spatial heterogeneity Species–area curve 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietmar Simmering
    • 1
  • Rainer Waldhardt
    • 1
  • Annette Otte
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Landscape Ecology and Landscape Planning, Institute of Landscape Ecology and Resources Management, Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Biosystems, Land Use and NutritionJustus-Liebig-University of GiessenGiessenGermany

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