Spatial and climatic variables independently drive elevational gradients in ant species richness in the Eastern Himalaya

Autoři: Aniruddha Marathe aff001;  Dharma Rajan Priyadarsanan aff001;  Jagdish Krishnaswamy aff001;  Kartik Shanker aff001
Působiště autorů: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Srirampura, Bangalore, India aff001;  Manipal University, Manipal, India aff002;  Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India aff003
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article


Elevational gradients are considered important for understanding causes behind gradients in species richness due to the large variation in climate and habitat within a small spatial extent. Geometric constraints are thought to interact with environmental variables and influence elevational patterns in species richness. However, the geographic setting of most mountain ranges, particularly continuity with low elevation areas may reduce the effect of geometric constraints at lower elevations. In the present study, we test the effects of climatic gradients and continuity with the low elevation plains of the eastern Himalayan mountain range on patterns of species richness. We studied species richness of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on an elevational gradient between 600m and 2400m in the Eastern Himalaya–part of Himalaya biodiversity hotspot. Ants were sampled in nine elevational bands of 200m with four transects in each band using pitfall and Winkler traps. We used regression models to identify the most important environmental variables that predict species richness and used constrained null models to test the effects of contiguity between the mountain range and plains. We find a monotonic decline in species richness of ants with elevation. Temperature was a more important predictor of species richness than habitat complexity. Geometric constraints model weighted by temperature with a soft lower boundary and hard upper boundary best explained the species richness pattern. This suggests that a combination of climate and geometric constraints drive the elevational species richness patterns of ants.

Klíčová slova:

Ants – Conservation science – Ecological niches – Habitats – Mathematical models – Regression analysis – Species diversity – Species extinction


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