Biodiversity Science ›› 2009, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (6): 652-663.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09065

Special Issue: Species Diversity in Biological Communities: Patterns and Mechanisms

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Geographic patterns and environmental correlates of terrestrial mammal species richness in China

Xin Lin*, Zhiheng Wang, Zhiyao Tang, Shuqing Zhao, Jingyun Fang   

  1. Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Center for Ecological Research & Education, and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871
  • Received:2009-03-21 Online:2009-11-20

Understanding macro-scale spatial patterns in species diversity and their underlying mechanisms is central to macroecology and biogeography. In this study, we explored geographic patterns of species richness and their environmental determinants for overall terrestrial mammals and each major mammalian order in China, using datasets of species distribution, climate, topography and vegetation. Species richness of terrestrial mammals exhibited significant latitudinal gradients, decreasing from south to north. High species richness generally occurred in tropical and subtropical mountains, whereas low species richness was found in the eastern plains, the arid areas of northwest regions, and central areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Geographic patterns of species richness varied among mammalian orders. The best model, which included a remote sensing-based vegetation index (NDVI), number of ecosystems, and annual range of temperature, accounted for 66.2% of variation in overall mammal species richness, with NDVI being the most important determinant. This suggests that patterns of mammal richness in China are governed by the integrated effects of different environmental predictors, with vegetation productivity playing a major role. The best models for various or-ders of mammals identified different combinations of determinants, possibly reflecting differences in evolu-tionary history and physiological tolerances.

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