Ecological Research

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 949–956 | Cite as

Species turnover of amphibians and reptiles in eastern China: disentangling the relative effects of geographic distance and environmental difference

  • Shengbin Chen
  • Gaoming Jiang
  • Jinlong Zhang
  • Yonggeng Li
  • Hong Qian
Original Article


Spatial turnover of species lies at the heart of macroecology and conservation biogeography. However, our knowledge of the causes of species turnover remains poor, particularly for herpetofaunas including amphibians and reptiles. Here, using regression, variance partitioning, and hierarchical partitioning analyses, we examine the relationships of species turnover in herpetofaunas among provinces in eastern China with respect to geographic distance and environmental difference. We found that species turnover in herpetofaunas is moderately to strongly correlated with geographic distance and difference in most environmental variables examined between provinces. Geographic distance and environmental difference together explain 87.1 and 89.9% of the variance of species turnover for amphibians and reptiles, respectively. Variance partitioning analysis indicated that most variance in species turnover is explained by the joint effect of geographic distance and environmental difference. Beyond this shared variance, environmental difference is a stronger predictor of species turnover than geographic distance, particularly for reptiles. Hierarchical partitioning analysis showed that energy-related variables explained more variance in species turnover for both amphibians and reptiles, compared with water-related variables. The independent effects of water-related variables are slightly higher for amphibians than for reptiles whereas the independent effects of energy-related variables are slightly higher for reptiles than amphibians. These patterns are consistent with different ecophysiological requirements of the two taxa. Our results have important implications for predicting changes in biodiversity of herpetofaunas under climate change scenarios. Global warming will affect the immigration and local extinction of both amphibians and reptiles, and precipitation change may affect amphibians more strongly, compared with its effect on reptiles.


Beta diversity Distance decay of similarity Energy-related variables Niche limitation Water-related variables 



We thank Masahiro Nakaoka and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. The compilation of the climate data used in this study was supported by the National Science Foundation of the United States (DEB-0640058).

Supplementary material

11284_2011_850_MOESM1_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Online Supplementary material (DOC 44 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shengbin Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gaoming Jiang
    • 1
  • Jinlong Zhang
    • 1
  • Yonggeng Li
    • 1
  • Hong Qian
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Lab of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Research and Collections CenterIllinois State MuseumSpringfieldUSA

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