Latitude, tree species diversity and the metabolic theory of ecology



The latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG) has been known for over a century, but its origin remains poorly understood. Because both latitude and species richness are broadly related to temperature, environmental temperature has been proposed as a driver of the LDG. Recently, Wang et al. (2009, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 106,13388–13392) used datasets compiled from tree distributions in eastern Asia and North America to compare the species richness−temperature relationship between the two regions at several spatial scales and framed their analyses in the context of the metabolic theory of ecology. Here, we show that their datasets lack comparability between eastern Asia and North America and that some aspects of their analyses probably biased their results, casting doubt on some of their conclusions.