University of Oulu

Bailey JJ, Boyd DS, Hjort J, Lavers CP, Field R. Modelling native and alien vascular plant species richness: At which scales is geodiversity most relevant? Global Ecol Biogeogr. 2017;26:763–776.

Modelling native and alien vascular plant species richness : at which scales is geodiversity most relevant?

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Author: Bailey, Joseph J.1; Boyd, Doreen S.1; Hjort, Jan2;
Organizations: 1University of Nottingham, University Park School of Geography Nottingham United Kingdom
2University of Oulu Geography Research Unit Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-08-09


Aim: To explore the scale dependence of relationships between novel measures of geodiversity and species richness of both native and alien vascular plants.

Location: Great Britain.

Time period: Data collected 1995–2015.

Major taxa: Vascular plants.

Methods: We calculated the species richness of terrestrial native and alien vascular plants (6,932 species in total) across the island of Great Britain at grain sizes of 1 km² (𝑛 = 219,964) and 100 km² (𝑛 = 2,121) and regional extents of 25–250 km diameter, centred around each 100-km² cell. We compiled geodiversity data on landforms, soils, hydrological and geological features usingexisting national datasets, and used a newly developed geomorphometric method to extract landform coverage data (e.g., hollows, ridges, valleys, peaks). We used these as predictors of species richness alongside climate, commonly used topographic metrics, land-cover variety and human population. We analysed species richness across scales using boosted regression tree (BRT) modelling and compared models with and without geodiversity data.

Results: Geodiversity significantly improved models over and above the widely used topographic metrics, particularly at smaller extents and the finer grain size, and slightly more so for native species richness. For each increase in extent, the contribution of climatic variables increased and that of geodiversity decreased. Of the geodiversity variables, automatically extracted landform data added the most explanatory power, but hydrology (rivers, lakes) and materials (soil, superficial deposits, geology) were also important.

Main conclusions: Geodiversity improves our understanding of, and our ability to model, the relationship between species richness and abiotic heterogeneity at multiple spatial scales by allowing us to get closer to the real-world physical processes that affect patterns of life. The greatest benefit comes from measuring the constituent parts of geodiversity separately rather than one combined variable (as in most of the few studies to date). Automatically extracted landform data, the use of which is novel in ecology and biogeography, proved particularly valuable in our study.

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Series: Global ecology and biogeography. A journal of macroecology
ISSN: 1466-822X
ISSN-E: 1466-822X
ISSN-L: 1466-822X
DOI: 10.1111/geb.12574
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1171 Geosciences
Funding: This research was supported by the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) PhD Studentship 1365737, which was awarded to J.J.B., University of Nottingham, in October 2013 (supervised by R.F. and D.B.). J.H. acknowledges the Academy of Finland (project number 285040).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 285040
Detailed Information: 285040 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2017 The Authors. Global Ecology and Biogeography Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.