Elevational gradients in species diversity and species area relationships are two well established patterns that are not mutually exclusive in space and time. Elevation and area are both considered as good proxies to detect and characterize the patterns of species diversity distribution. However, such studies are hampered by the incomplete biodiversity data available for ecologists, which may affect the pattern perceptions. Using the large dataset of oribatid mite communities sampled in Georgia, we tested the effects of altitude and area on species distribution using various approaches, while explicitly considering the biases from sampling effort. Our results showed that elevation and area are strongly correlated (with increasing absolute elevation, land area decreases) and both have strong linear effects on species diversity distribution when studied separately. Approaches based on multiple regression and direct removal of co-varied factors, indicated that the effect of area can actually override the effect of elevation in describing the oribatid species diversity distribution along with elevation. On the other hand, the bias of sampling proved significant in perception of elevational species richness pattern with less effect on elevational species area relationship. We suggest that the sampling alone may be responsible for patterns observed and thus should be considered in ecological studies when eligible.
Experimental and Applied Acarology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 17, 2017
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