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Open AccessArticle

Diversity Patterns of Different Life Forms of Plants along an Elevational Gradient in Crete, Greece

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Department of Ecology, School of Biology, Aristotle University, GR-54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
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Institute of Plant Breeding & Genetic Resources, Hellenic Agricultural Organization Demeter, GR-57001 Thermi-Thessaloniki, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(10), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11100200
Received: 11 October 2019 / Revised: 16 October 2019 / Accepted: 17 October 2019 / Published: 19 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Diversity)
Elevational gradients provide a unique opportunity to explore species responses to changing environmental conditions. Here, we focus on an elevational gradient in Crete, a climate-vulnerable Mediterranean plant biodiversity hotspot and explore the diversity patterns and underlying mechanisms of different plant life forms. We found that the significant differences in life forms’ elevational and environmental ranges are reflected in α- diversity (species richness at local scale), γ-diversity (species richness at regional scale) and β-diversity (variation in species composition). The α- and γ-diversity decreased with elevation, while β-diversity followed a hump-shaped relationship, with the peak varying between life forms. However, β-deviation (deviation from null expectations) varied significantly with elevation but was life formindependent. This suggests that species composition is shaped by the size of the available species pool which depends on life form, but also by other deterministic or stochastic processes that act in a similar way for different life forms. The strength of these processes varies with elevation, with hotter–drier conditions and increased human activities filtering species composition at lowlands and large-scale processes determining the species pool size overriding local ecological processes at higher elevations. View Full-Text
Keywords: β-diversity; species richness; elevation; bioclimatic variables; human land uses; Mediterranean β-diversity; species richness; elevation; bioclimatic variables; human land uses; Mediterranean
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Lazarina, M.; Charalampopoulos, A.; Psaralexi, M.; Krigas, N.; Michailidou, D.-E.; Kallimanis, A.S.; Sgardelis, S.P. Diversity Patterns of Different Life Forms of Plants along an Elevational Gradient in Crete, Greece. Diversity 2019, 11, 200.

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