• Diversity gradients;
  • Diversity maps;
  • Kyrgyzstan;
  • Partial least squares regression;
  • Predictive mapping;
  • Species turnover;
  • Walnut-fruit forests


Question: How to map continuous fields of forest alpha and beta diversity in remote areas, based on easily accessible spatial data.

Location: Kyrgyzstan/Central Asia.

Methods: The study relied on a combination of predictive mapping and remote sensing. Punctual measurements of alpha diversity were linked to topography and reflectance using regression models. For beta diversity, ordination techniques were employed to extract major vegetation gradients. Scores on the ordination axes were regressed against topography as well as reflectance and subsequently mapped. Beta diversity was mapped as spatial turnover rate along these axes.

Results: The diversity maps quantified species counts and turnover in a spatially contiguous manner while taking into account fuzzy transitions. The variance explained by regression models ranged from 51% to 61% in cross-validation. Many of the observed differences were caused by differences in species shares. The occurrence of walnut, in particular, showed a negative relation to woody species numbers.

Conclusion: Mapping biodiversity in remote areas can be based on easily accessible spatial data in combination with a set of calibration field samples. With regard to human influence on walnut dominance, a total removal of human land use would be counterproductive in terms of diversity conservation. The results of this study highlight the need for comprehensive analyses of diversity patterns that include spatially contiguous quantifications of species numbers, shares and turnover rates.