Citation Bunnefeld L, Jones FA, Orme CDL, Sobkowiak B, Barraclough TG, Chase MW, Govaerts R, Soltis DE, Soltis PS & Savolainen V (2013) Do Global Diversity Patterns of Vertebrates Reflect Those of Monocots?, PLoS ONE, 8 (5), Art. No.: e56979.
Few studies of global diversity gradients in plants exist, largely because the data are not available for all species involved. Instead, most global studies have focussed on vertebrates, as these taxa have historically been associated with the most complete data. Here, we address this shortfall by first investigating global diversity gradients in monocots, a morphologically and functionally diverse clade representing a quarter of flowering plant diversity, and then assessing congruence between monocot and vertebrate diversity patterns. To do this, we create a new dataset that merges biome-level associations for all monocot genera with country-level associations for almost all ∼70,000 species. We then assess the evidence for direct versus indirect effects of this plant diversity on vertebrate diversity using a combination of linear regression and structural equation modelling (SEM). Finally, we also calculate overlap of diversity hotspots for monocots and each vertebrate taxon. Monocots follow a latitudinal gradient although with pockets of extra-tropical diversity, mirroring patterns in vertebrates. Monocot diversity is positively associated with vertebrate diversity, but the strength of correlation varies depending on the clades being compared. Monocot diversity explains marginal amounts of variance (<10%) after environmental factors have been accounted for. However, correlations remain among model residuals, and SEMs apparently reveal some direct effects of monocot richness. Our results suggest that collinear responses to environmental gradients are behind much of the congruence observed, but that there is some evidence for direct effects of producer diversity on consumer diversity. Much remains to be done before broad-scale diversity gradients among taxa are fully explained. Our dataset of monocot distributions will aid in this endeavour.
Bunnefeld Lynsey, Jones F Andrew, Orme C David L, Sobkowiak Benjamin, Barraclough Timothy G, Chase Mark W, Govaerts Rafael, Soltis Douglas E, Soltis Pamela S, Savolainen Vincent