Richness patterns of endemic and threatened conifers in south-west China: topographic-soil fertility explanation

Abstract
Understanding the relationships between species richness patterns and environment constitutes a key issue in biogeography and conservation strategies. To our knowledge, this is the first integrative study that incorporates soil and human-influence data into species richness modeling. Our aims were to 1) estimate the richness patterns of four conifers groups (all conifers species, endemics, threatened, and endemic-threatened species) in south-west China, 2) assess the relative importance of environmental predictors (energy, water, climate, topography, and soil) and the human-influence on the conifers richness patterns and 3) identify hotspot ecoregions, nature reserves, or important plant areas as priority conservation areas. Generalized linear models and hierarchical partitioning were used by correlating 8,962 distributional records of 97 conifer species with different environmental drivers. Results indicated that central Sichuan, northern Sichuan, northern Yunnan, and the southern areas of the Hengduan mountains were identified as distinct centres of conifers richness in China. Topographic heterogeneity and soil fertility were the strongest drivers of conifer richness patterns, while climate, energy, water, and human drivers were contributed to a lower degree. The identified conifers' important areas were mostly located outside of the existing nature reserves but inside the ecoregions. Our findings emphasize that incorporating soil data into spatial modelling provides great insights for the conservation of conifers species. We recommend conservationists to use soil variables and other environmental data to generate a comprehensive understanding of the key drivers underlying the patterns of conifer diversity and distribution.
Funding Information
  • National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0502101)
  • the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (2019QZKK0303)
  • China Scholarship Council (2017GXZ010412)
  • National Natural Science Foundation of China (31961133012)
References

This publication has 71 references indexed in Scilit:

Related articles