J Syst Evol ›› 2015, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (6): 535-545.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12158

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Latitudinal diversity gradients in bryophytes and woody plants: Roles of temperature and water availability

Sheng‐Bin Chen1,2, J. W. Ferry Slik2, Jie Gao3, Ling‐Feng Mao4, Meng‐Jie Bi5, Meng‐Wei Shen6, and Ke‐Xin Zhou1,*   

  1. 1Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Nanjing, China
    2Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER), Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Gadong, Brunei Darussalam
    3Forestry College of Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China
    4Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
    5College of Earth Science, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu, China
    6College of Tourism and Urban–Rural Planning, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu, China
  • Received:2015-01-23 Published:2015-11-30

Abstract: It remains unclear whether the latitudinal diversity gradients of micro- and macro-organisms are driven by the same macro-environmental variables. We used the newly completed species catalog and distribution information of bryophytes in China to explore their spatial species richness patterns, and to investigate the underlying roles of energy availability, climatic seasonality, and environmental heterogeneity in shaping these patterns. We then compared these patterns to those found for woody plants. We found that, unlike woody plants, mosses and liverworts showed only weakly negative latitudinal trends in species richness. The spatial patterns of liverwort richness and moss richness were overwhelmingly explained by contemporary environmental variables, although explained variation was lower than that for woody plants. Similar to woody plants, energy and climatic seasonality hypotheses dominate as explanatory variables but show high redundancy in shaping the distribution of bryophytes. Water variables, that is, the annual availability, intra-annual variability and spatial heterogeneity in precipitation, played a predominant role in explaining spatial variation of species richness of bryophytes, especially for liverworts, whereas woody plant richness was affected most by temperature variables. We suggest that further research on spatial patterns of bryophytes should incorporate the knowledge on their ecophysiology and evolution.

Key words: biogeography, environmental determinants, latitudinal gradient of diversity, liverworts, micro-organism diversity, mosses