Integrating highly diverse invertebrates into broad-scale analyses of cross-taxon congruence across the Palaearctic


  • Andreas Schuldt,

  • Zhiheng Wang,

  • Hongzhang Zhou,

  • Thorsten Assmann

A. Schuldt and T. Assmann (, Leuphana Univ. of Lüneburg, Inst. of Ecology and Environmental Chemistry, Scharnhorststr. 1, DE-21335 Lüneburg, Germany. – Z. Wang, Peking Univ., College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Dept of Ecology, Beijing 100871, China. (Present address of Z. W.: Univ. of Zurich, Inst. of Environmental Sciences, Winterthuererstr. 190, CH-8057, Zurich, Switzerland.) – H. Zhou, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Inst. of Zoology, Beijing, China.


Our knowledge on broad-scale patterns of biodiversity, as a basis for biogeographical models and conservation planning, largely rests upon studies on the spatial distribution of vertebrates and plants, neglecting large parts of the world's biodiversity. To reassess the generality of these patterns and better understand spatial diversity distributions of invertebrates, we analyzed patterns of species richness and endemism of a hyperdiverse insect taxon, carabid beetles (ca 11 000 Palaearctic species known), and its cross-taxon congruence with well-studied vertebrates (amphibians, reptiles) and plants across 107 units of the Palaearctic. Based on species accumulation curves, we accounted for completeness of the carabid data by separately examining the western (well-sampled) and eastern (partly less well-sampled) Palaearctic and China (deficient data). For the western Palaearctic, we highlight overall centers of invertebrate, vertebrate and plant diversity. Species richness and endemism of carabids were highly correlated with patterns of especially plant and amphibian diversity across large parts of the Palaearctic. For the well-sampled western Palaearctic, hotspots of diversity integrating invertebrates were located in Italy, Spain and Greece. Only analysis of Chinese provinces yielded low congruence between carabids and plants/vertebrates. However, Chinese carabid diversity is only insufficiently known and China features the highest numbers of annual new descriptions of carabids in the Palaearctic. Even based on the incomplete data, China harbors at least 25% of all Palaearctic carabid species. Our study shows that richness and endemism patterns of highly diverse insects can exhibit high congruence with general large scale patterns of diversity inferred from plants/vertebrates and that hotspots derived from the latter can also include a high diversity of invertebrates. In this regard, China qualifies as an outstanding multi-taxon hotspot of diversity, requiring intense biodiversity research and conservation effort. Our findings extend the limited knowledge on broad-scale invertebrate distributions and allow for a better understanding of diversity patterns across a larger range of the world's biodiversity than usually considered.