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Regional plot x species data for alpine vegetation

Cite this dataset

Malanson, George (2023). Regional plot x species data for alpine vegetation [Dataset]. Dryad.


Whether the distribution and assembly of plant species are adapted to current climates or legacy effects poses a problem for their conservation during ongoing climate change. The alpine regions of southern and central Europe (SACEU) are compared to those of the western US and Canada (WUSAC) because they differ in their geographies and histories. Individual-based simulation experiments disentangled the role of geography in species adaptations and legacy effects in four combinations: approximations of observed alpine geographies vs. regular lattices with the same number of regions (realistic and null representations), and virtual species with responses to either climatic or simple spatial gradients (adaptations or legacy effects). Additionally, dispersal distances were varied using five Gaussian kernels. Because the similarity of pairs of regional species pools indicated the processes of assembly at extensive spatiotemporal scales and is a measure of beta diversity, this output of the simulations was correlated to observed similarity for Europe and North America. In North America, correlations were highest for simulations with approximated geography and location-adapted species; those in Europe had their highest correlation with the lattice pattern and climate-adapted species. Only SACEU correlations were sensitive to dispersal limitation. The southern and central European alpine areas are more isolated and with more distinct climates to which species are adapted. In the western US and Canada, less isolation and more mixing of species from refugia has caused location to mask climate adaptation. Among continents, the balance of explanatory factors for the assembly of regional species pools will vary with their unique historical biogeographies, with isolation lessening disequilibria.


The WUSAC and SACEU datasets are tables of the presence of species in the alpine habitats of the mountain ranges.

The WUSAC dataset was derived from a variety of sources, including theses and regional floras by Malanson et al. (2015) with some additions. The species lists for added regions that did not well-differentiate the alpine zone were reduced to those species that were in the alpine zone of at least three of the regions with good differentiation or were linked to the alpine by name (e.g., binomial alpinus or common name “alpine …”). This choice was a compromise between excluding regions and including species as alpine that were not. The species nomenclature was updated and reconciled using the Taxonomic Name Resolution Service ( and cross-checked with the UDSA PLANTS Database ( The 54 regions with the individual sources of the species pools are listed in Supplementary Material Appendix 2 Table A2 of the published paper.

The SACEU dataset was derived from:

Jiménez-Alfaro, B., Abdulhak, S., Attorre, F., Bergamini, A., Carranza, M.L., Chiarucci, A., … & Winkler, M. (2021). Postglacial determinants of regional species pools in alpine grasslands. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 30, 1101-1115. and complete data are available at

Usage notes

This dataset is a partial duplicate of another published dataset: Please refer to that link for the complete dataset.


National Science Foundation, Award: 1853665