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Factors that shape the elevational patterns of plant diversity in the Yatsugatake Mountains, Japan
  • Yoshitaka Oishi
Yoshitaka Oishi
Fukui Prefectural University
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Abstract

Elevation is involved in determining plant diversity in montane ecosystems. This study examined whether the species distribution of plants in the Yatsugatake Mountains, central Japan, substantiated hypotheses associated with an elevational diversity gradient. Species richness of trees, shrubs, herbs, ferns, and bryophytes was investigated in study plots established at 200-m elevational intervals from 1800 to 2800 m. The changes in plant diversity (alpha and beta diversities, plant functional types, and elevational ranges) with elevation were analyzed in relation to climatic factors and elevational diversity gradient hypotheses, that is, mass effect, mid-domain effect, and Rapoport’s elevational rule. A comparison of alpha and beta diversities revealed that different plant groups respond variably to elevation; the alpha diversity of trees and ferns decreased, that of herbs increased, whereas the alpha diversity of shrubs and bryophytes showed a U-shaped relationship and a hump-shaped pattern. The beta diversity of shrubs, herbs, and bryophytes increased above the subalpine–alpine transition ecotone. In accordance with these changes, the dominance of evergreen shrubs and graminoids increased above this ecotone, whereas that of evergreen trees and liverworts decreased. None of the plant groups showed a wide elevational range at higher elevations. These elevational patterns of plant groups were explained by climatic factors, and not by elevational diversity gradient hypotheses. These patterns were further influenced by plant–plant interactions via competition for light availability and physical habitat alternation.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

20 Nov 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
20 Nov 2020Submission Checks Completed
20 Nov 2020Assigned to Editor
21 Nov 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Dec 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
10 Dec 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
25 Dec 20201st Revision Received
28 Dec 2020Submission Checks Completed
28 Dec 2020Assigned to Editor
28 Dec 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 Jan 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
01 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Accept