Data for: Liverworts show a globally consistent mid-elevation richness peak
Maul, Karola (2023), Data for: Liverworts show a globally consistent mid-elevation richness peak, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4f4qrfjg6
The study of elevational gradients allows to draw conclusions on factors and mechanisms determining patterns in species richness distribution. Several earlier studies investigated liverwort diversity on single or few elevational transects. However, a comprehensive survey on elevational distribution patterns of liverwort richness and their underlying factors is lacking so far. This study’s purpose was to fill this gap by compiling an extensive dataset of liverwort elevational patterns encompassing a broad diversity of mountains and mountain ranges around the world. Using polynomial regression analyses, we found a prevalence of hump-shaped richness patterns (19 of 25 gradients), where liverwort species richness peaked at mid-elevation and decreased towards both ends of the gradient. Against our expectation and unlike in other plant groups, in liverworts, this pattern also applies to elevational gradients at mid-latitudes in temperate climates. Indeed, relative elevation, calculated as the percentage of the elevational range potentially inhabited by liverworts, was the most powerful predictor for the distribution of liverwort species richness. We conclude from these results that admixture of low- and high-elevation liverwort floras, in combination with steep ecological gradients, leads to a floristic turnover shaping elevational distribution patterns of liverwort diversity. Our analyses further detected significant effects of climatic variables (temperature of the warmest month, potential evapotranspiration, and precipitation of the warmest month) in explaining elevational liverwort richness patterns. This indicates that montane liverwort diversity is restricted by high temperatures and subsequent low water availability, especially towards lower elevations, which presumably will lead to serious effects by temperature shifts associated with global warming.