Disentangling vegetation diversity from climate–energy and habitat heterogeneity for explaining animal geographic patterns
CITATION: Jimenez-Alfaro, B., et al. 2006. Disentangling vegetation diversity from climate–energy and habitat heterogeneity for explaining animal geographic patterns. Ecology and Evolution, 6(5):1515-1526, doi:10.1002/ece3.197.
The original publication is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com
Broad-scale animal diversity patterns have been traditionally explained by hypotheses focused on climate–energy and habitat heterogeneity, without con- sidering the direct inﬂuence of vegetation structure and composition. However, integrating these factors when considering plant–animal correlates still poses a major challenge because plant communities are controlled by abiotic factors that may, at the same time, inﬂuence animal distributions. By testing whether the number and variation of plant community types in Europe explain coun- try-level diversity in six animal groups, we propose a conceptual framework in which vegetation diversity represents a bridge between abiotic factors and ani- mal diversity. We show that vegetation diversity explains variation in animal richness not accounted for by altitudinal range or potential evapotranspiration, being the best predictor for butterﬂies, beetles, and amphibians. Moreover, the dissimilarity of plant community types explains the highest proportion of varia- tion in animal assemblages across the studied regions, an effect that outper- forms the effect of climate and their shared contribution with pure spatial variation. Our results at the country level suggest that vegetation diversity, as estimated from broad-scale classiﬁcations of plant communities, may contribute to our understanding of animal richness and may be disentangled, at least to a degree, from climate–energy and abiotic habitat heterogeneity.