The objective of this research was to study the relation between species richness and topography in the middle sub-tropical area of Eastern China. A species richness survey was conducted along altitude in Kaihua County, Zhejiang Province, Eastern China. Topographic variables, such as altitude, slope, aspect, terrain roughness, relief degree and the topographical wetness index, were extracted from the digital elevation model. The Generalized Additive Model (GAM), the linear model and the quadratic model were used to fit response curves of species richness to topographic variables. The results indicated that altitude and the topographical wetness index have a significant relation to species richness. Species richness has a unimodal response to altitude and a linear response to the topographical wetness index. However, no significant correlations were observed between slope, aspect and species richness. The predicted species richness by GAM is significantly correlated with the observed species richness, whereas the prediction error tends to increase with the increment of species richness. This study furthered insights into the relationship between topography and plants’ diversity in the middle sub-tropical area of Eastern China.
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