Environmental and historical effects on richness and endemism patterns of carabid beetles in the western Palaearctic

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Identifying determinants of spatial diversity gradients is in the focus of biodiversity-related research and has gained considerable importance regarding global change and conservation strategies. Despite their overwhelming diversity and the crucial role of invertebrates in ecosystem functioning, our understanding of factors driving broad-scale invertebrate diversity is limited. Tackling this issue, our study analyzes macroecological patterns of a highly diverse insect taxon across large parts of the western Palaearctic. We used regression modelling to assess the influence of environmental factors on overall, widespread and restricted-range (endemic) carabid beetle diversity. Single-term regressions and variation partitioning among climatic, topographic and spatial variables showed that total carabid diversity as well as richness patterns of widespread species were most strongly correlated with spatially structured variables related to current climate (measures of ambient energy and, to a lesser degree, precipitation and AET). In contrast, restricted-range (endemic) species were most notably related to range in elevation. We discuss the possible role of this factor as a surrogate measure of historical processes and the impact of history on contemporary diversity distributions. Our results indicate that while overall diversity patterns of carabids strongly reflect current climate conditions, this primarily reflects the more widespread species, whereas the spatial distribution of restricted-range species is still significantly affected by historical processes. Thus, for a general understanding of determinants and mechanisms of broad-scale diversity, taking into account dispersal abilities and range sizes of species is essential, especially as large parts of global biodiversity are represented by invertebrates with low dispersal powers.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)705-714
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 10.2009