University of Oulu

Sporbert, M, Keil, P, Seidler, G, et al. Testing macroecological abundance patterns: The relationship between local abundance and range size, range position and climatic suitability among European vascular plants. J Biogeogr. 2020; 47: 2210– 2222.

Testing macroecological abundance patterns : the relationship between local abundance and range size, range position and climatic suitability among European vascular plants

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Author: Sporbert, Maria1,2; Keil, Petr1,3; Seidler, Gunnar1;
Organizations: 1Institute of Biology / Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University Halle‐Wittenberg, Halle, Germany
2German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
3Institute of Computer Science / Biodiversity Synthesis, Martin Luther University Halle‐Wittenberg, Halle, Germany
4Department of Botany, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
5Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Bilbao, Spain
6Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Jovan Hadži Institute of Biology, Ljubljana, Slovenia
7School for Viticulture and Enology, University of Nova Gorica, Nova Gorica, Slovenia
8Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
9Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, UKIM, Skopje, North Macedonia
10Vegetation Ecology Group, Institute of Natural Resource Management (IUNR), Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Wädenswil, Switzerland
11Plant Ecology, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
12Institute of Ecology of the Volga River Basin, Russian Academy of Sciences, Togliatti, Russia
13Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
14M.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
15UR "Ecologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés" (EDYSAN, UMR 7058 CNRS‐UPJV), Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France
16Department of Bioscience, Section for Biodiversity and Wildlife Ecology, Aarhus University, Rønde, Denmark
17Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
18Department of Biosciences, University of Vic, Barcelona, Spain
19Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
20ZRC SAZU, Institute of Biology, Ljubljana, Slovenia
21Department of Botany, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
22Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
23Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
24Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research / Plant and Fungal Diversity and Resources, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria
25Department of Ecology & Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
26Department of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research ‐ UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-10-30


Aim: A fundamental question in macroecology centres around understanding the relationship between species’ local abundance and their distribution in geographical and climatic space (i.e. the multi‐dimensional climatic space or climatic niche). Here, we tested three macroecological hypotheses that link local abundance to the following range properties: (a) the abundance–range size relationship, (b) the abundance–range centre relationship and (c) the abundance–suitability relationship.

Location: Europe.

Taxon: Vascular plants.

Methods: Distribution range maps were extracted from the Chorological Database Halle to derive information on the range and niche sizes of 517 European vascular plant species. To estimate local abundance, we assessed samples from 744,513 vegetation plots in the European Vegetation Archive, where local species’ abundance is available as plant cover per plot. We then calculated the ‘centrality’, that is, the distance between the location of the abundance observation and each species’ range centre in geographical and climatic space. The climatic suitability of plot locations was estimated using coarse‐grain species distribution models (SDMs). The relationships between centrality or climatic suitability with abundance was tested using linear models and quantile regression. We summarized the overall trend across species’ regression slopes from linear models and quantile regression using a meta‐analytical approach.

Results: We did not detect any positive relationships between a species’ mean local abundance and the size of its geographical range or climatic niche. Contrasting yet significant correlations were detected between abundance and centrality or climatic suitability among species.

Main conclusions: Our results do not provide unequivocal support for any of the relationships tested, demonstrating that determining properties of species’ distributions at large grains and extents might be of limited use for predicting local abundance, including current SDM approaches. We conclude that environmental factors influencing individual performance and local abundance are likely to differ from those factors driving plant species’ distribution at coarse resolution and broad geographical extents.

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Series: Journal of biogeography
ISSN: 0305-0270
ISSN-E: 1365-2699
ISSN-L: 0305-0270
Volume: 47
Issue: 10
Pages: 2210 - 2222
DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13926
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Graduiertenförderung Sachsen‐Anhalt (scholarship to MS), with additional support through institutional funds of Martin Luther University Halle‐Wittenberg. PK received support from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig funded by the German Research Foundation (FZT 118). IB and JAC were supported by the Basque Government (IT936‐16). MC, AK and CM were supported by the Czech Science Foundation (19‐28491X). SR was supported by the University of Latvia through grant funding (AAp2016/B041//Zd2016/AZ03). We acknowledge the financial support of the Open Access Publication Fund of the Martin Luther University Halle‐Wittenberg.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Journal of 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.