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Title (Primary) Global patterns and drivers of alpine plant species richness
Author Testolin, R.; Attorre, F.; Borchardt, P.; Brand, R.F.; Bruelheide, H.; Chytrý, M.; De Sanctis, M.; Dolezal, J.; Finckh, M.; Haider, S.; Hemp, A.; Jandt, U.; Kessler, M.; Korolyuk, A.Y.; Lenoir, J.; Makunina, N.; Malanson, G.P.; Montesinos‐Tubée, D.B.; Noroozi, J.; Nowak, A.; Peet, R.K.; Peyre, G.; Sabatini, F.M.; Šibík, J.; Sklenář, P.; Sylvester, S.P.; Vassilev, K.; Virtanen, R.; Willner, W.; Wiser, S.K.; Zibzeev, E.G.; Jiménez‐Alfaro, B.
Journal Global Ecology and Biogeography
Year 2021
Department iDiv; PHYDIV
Volume 30
Issue 6
Page From 1218
Page To 1231
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
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Alpine ecosystems differ in area, macroenvironment and biogeographical history across the Earth, but the relationship between these factors and plant species richness is still unexplored. Here, we assess the global patterns of plant species richness in alpine ecosystems and their association with environmental, geographical and historical factors at regional and community scales.



Time period

Data collected between 1923 and 2019.

Major taxa studied

Vascular plants.


We used a dataset representative of global alpine vegetation, consisting of 8,928 plots sampled within 26 ecoregions and six biogeographical realms, to estimate regional richness using sample‐based rarefaction and extrapolation. Then, we evaluated latitudinal patterns of regional and community richness with generalized additive models. Using environmental, geographical and historical predictors from global raster layers, we modelled regional and community richness in a mixed‐effect modelling framework.


The latitudinal pattern of regional richness peaked around the equator and at mid‐latitudes, in response to current and past alpine area, isolation and the variation in soil pH among regions. At the community level, species richness peaked at mid‐latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, despite a considerable within‐region variation. Community richness was related to macroclimate and historical predictors, with strong effects of other spatially structured factors.

Main conclusions

In contrast to the well‐known latitudinal diversity gradient, the alpine plant species richness of some temperate regions in Eurasia was comparable to that of hyperdiverse tropical ecosystems, such as the páramo. The species richness of these putative hotspot regions is explained mainly by the extent of alpine area and their glacial history, whereas community richness depends on local environmental factors. Our results highlight hotspots of species richness at mid‐latitudes, indicating that the diversity of alpine plants is linked to regional idiosyncrasies and to the historical prevalence of alpine ecosystems, rather than current macroclimatic gradients.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Testolin, R., Attorre, F., Borchardt, P., Brand, R.F., Bruelheide, H., Chytrý, M., De Sanctis, M., Dolezal, J., Finckh, M., Haider, S., Hemp, A., Jandt, U., Kessler, M., Korolyuk, A.Y., Lenoir, J., Makunina, N., Malanson, G.P., Montesinos‐Tubée, D.B., Noroozi, J., Nowak, A., Peet, R.K., Peyre, G., Sabatini, F.M., Šibík, J., Sklenář, P., Sylvester, S.P., Vassilev, K., Virtanen, R., Willner, W., Wiser, S.K., Zibzeev, E.G., Jiménez‐Alfaro, B. (2021):
Global patterns and drivers of alpine plant species richness
Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 30 (6), 1218 - 1231