Distribution and species richness of woody dryland legumes in Baja California, Mexico


Corresponding author; Fax: +52 55 54245485; E-mail pedrop@ine.gob.mx


Abstract. We analysed the biogeographic patterns of woody legumes in the Baja California peninsula, NW Mexico. From the specimen labels of eight herbaria, we digitized 4205 records from 78 species, and projected them onto a grid of 205 cartographic cells (20’ longitude × 15’ latitude). Most species followed distribution patterns that coincide with floristic subdivisions of the peninsula. Endemism is high, reaching 60–70% in the centre of the peninsula, where the driest deserts are found and where significant floristic changes took place during Pleistocene glacial events. The number of cartographic cells (i.e. their geographic ranges) were log-normally distributed, as has been reported for many other taxa. Floristic richness was found to be clumped around some cells where the observed richness is significantly higher than could be expected from chance variation. We tested the hypothesis that these ‘hotspots’ could be attributable to great collection efforts or to large land surfaces, but we still found 16 cells where richness is significantly high once these two factors are accounted for. Species richness and micro-endemism increase towards the south, conforming to Rapoport's rule that predicts that species ranges become smaller towards the equator while richness increases. The floristic hotspots for woody legumes in Baja California occur in the Cape Region and along the Sierra de la Giganta in the southern Gulf Coast, where 77% of the total peninsular legume flora can be found. These hotspots are mostly unprotected, and should be considered priority areas for future conservation efforts.