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The region effect on mesoscale plant species richness between eastern Asia and eastern North America


  • Robert E. Ricklefs,

  • Hong Qian,

  • Peter S. White

R. E. Ricklefs, (, Dept. Biology, Univ. Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63121-4499,USA. – H. Qian, Res. Coll. Center, Ill. State Museum, 1011 East Ash Street, Springfield, IL 62703, USA. – P. S. White, Dept of Biology, Univ. North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280, USA.


The greater number of plant species in temperate eastern Asia compared to eastern North America has been ascribed to both local environment and regional characteristics, but the relative contributions of each have not been resolved. In this analysis, we related species richness of flowering plants in mesoscale floras (<104 km2) dominated by temperate forest vegetation to area, elevation, latitude, and several climate variables. When analyses were conducted separately within each region, area and, in eastern Asia, elevation, were the primary determinants of species richness. It appears that the number of species in mesic temperate floras within these regions is largely unrelated to the relatively narrow range of local climate factors associated with these floras. Analysis of covariance of the logarithm of species richness with the logarithm of area (b=0.148) and climate measurements as independent variables revealed a region effect, with species richness in eastern Asia exceeding that in eastern North America by 0.294 log10 units, or a factor of 2.0. Similar regional differences in species richness were apparent in floras compiled from larger areas. Understanding differences in plant species richness between regions requires consideration of regional influences, whose effects should be tested in comparative analyses based on floristic surveys of ecologically characterized small areas.