Distribution and richness of aquatic plants across Europe and Mediterranean countries: patterns, environmental driving factors and comparison with total plant richness
Version of Record online: 18 APR 2012
© 2012 International Association for Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 23, Issue 5, pages 985–997, October 2012
How to Cite
Chappuis, E., Ballesteros, E., Gacia, E. (2012), Distribution and richness of aquatic plants across Europe and Mediterranean countries: patterns, environmental driving factors and comparison with total plant richness. Journal of Vegetation Science, 23: 985–997. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2012.01417.x
- Issue online: 4 SEP 2012
- Version of Record online: 18 APR 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 FEB 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 27 DEC 2011
- Manuscript Received: 17 APR 2011
- Spanish National Research Council
- Spanish Ministry of Education and Science
- GRACCIE project. Grant Number: CSD2007-00067
- Red de Parques Nacionales of the Spanish Ministry of the Environment. Grant Number: 118/2003
- Aquatic macrophytes;
- Biodiversity hot spot;
- Latitudinal trends;
What are the geographic patterns of γ-diversity of aquatic plants and what are the main driving factors? Are richness trends for aquatic plants similar to total plant richness? Is the Mediterranean area a hot spot for aquatic plants?
Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.
We listed vascular aquatic plant presence or absence for 44 countries. We also compiled total plant species richness and geographic and environmental variables for each country.
We first analysed country ordination based on their aquatic flora constrained by environmental variables (dbRDA), and selected the environmental variables best explaining species patterns (BEST analysis). Total species richness patterns were studied using maps and latitudinal gradients. We used generalized additive models (GAM) to detect the main environmental factors driving species richness, both for aquatic plants and total plants.
The BEST analysis identified a single variable that best explains aquatic plant species distribution: evapotranspiration. However, richness of aquatic plants vs latitude varies and no clear trend was observed. No relation was found between total plant and aquatic plant richness. Aquatic and total plant richness peak between 40° and 50°N, and values were intermediate at low latitudes. GAM related aquatic plant richness with water resources and rainfall, while total plant richness is mainly driven by evapotranspiration and temperature. Hydrophytes were relatively more abundant at higher latitudes than helophytes and the ratio correlated with evapotranspiration.
Southern and western Europe hold the highest aquatic plant diversity, although no clear latitudinal species richness patterns were found. Aquatic plant richness is mainly driven by water-related variables. Total plant richness exhibits a latitudinal pattern influenced by the Sahara desert, which depresses richness at low latitudes. Best predictors of total plant richness patterns are water–energy variables.