University of Oulu

Tukiainen, H, Kiuttu, M, Kalliola, R, Alahuhta, J, Hjort, J. Landforms contribute to plant biodiversity at alpha, beta and gamma levels. J Biogeogr. 2019; 46: 1699– 1710.

Landforms contribute to plant biodiversity at alpha, beta and gamma levels

Saved in:
Author: Tukiainen, Helena1; Kiuttu, Mikko2; Kalliola, Risto3;
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Rokua Geopark, Rokua, Finland
3Geography Section, Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-04-10


Aim: Geodiversity underpins biodiversity, but the contribution of specific geofeatures or landforms has rarely been explored. In this study, we use multiple vascular plant species diversity measures on alpha, beta and gamma levels to explore the linkage between biodiversity and co‐located landforms (e.g. gullies, dunes and lake shores). We hypothesize that biodiversity will be positively related to geodiversity, which is founded on distinct landforms. Additionally, we propose that different landforms will sustain different amounts of biodiversity and that high alpha and gamma diversity values are related to landform‐driven moisture availability whereas high beta diversity relates especially to landform‐specific microtopographic variation.

Location: Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark area, Finland.

Taxon: Vascular plants.

Methods: We compare vascular plant species richness measures, Shannon’s and Simpson’s diversity indices, rarity‐weighted richness and local contribution to beta diversity at altogether three levels of biodiversity (alpha, beta and gamma) for different landforms. Landform information is compiled from aerial photos, spatial data layers and targeted field surveys. We compare results to control habitat (i.e. sites without any distinct landforms) within the study area.

Results: Vascular plant diversity was higher on landforms than in control habitat. There was also notable variation between species diversity of different landforms. Moisture‐rich gullies and river shores were especially diverse at all three levels, whereas aapa mires hosted most unique species composition (highest beta diversity). Beta diversity patterns were rather comparable with alpha and gamma diversity patterns, which contradict our hypothesis.

Main conclusions: This study quantitatively established a strong connection between terrestrial plant communities and multiple landforms. Our results highlighted the landform‐controlled variation in soil moisture, microclimate and microtopography in enhancing plant species diversity. Based on the results, we promote the inclusion of landform‐based geodiversity information in conservation management and in further biogeographical studies.

see all

Series: Journal of biogeography
ISSN: 0305-0270
ISSN-E: 1365-2699
ISSN-L: 0305-0270
Volume: 46
Issue: 8
Pages: 1699 - 1710
DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13569
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1172 Environmental sciences
1171 Geosciences
Funding: Helena Tukiainen was supported by Kone Foundation and Jan Hjort by the Academy of Finland (Projects 285040 and 315519).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 285040
Detailed Information: 285040 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
315519 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Tukiainen, H, Kiuttu, M, Kalliola, R, Alahuhta, J, Hjort, J. Landforms contribute to plant biodiversity at alpha, beta and gamma levels. J Biogeogr. 2019; 46: 1699– 1710, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving."