Convergence in the distribution patterns of Europe's plants and mammals is due to environmental forcing

Heikinheimo, Hannes; Eronen, Jussi T.; Sennikov, Alexander; Preston, Christopher D.; Oikarinen, Emilia; Uotila, Pertti; Mannila, Heikki; Fortelius, Mikael. 2012 Convergence in the distribution patterns of Europe's plants and mammals is due to environmental forcing. Journal of Biogeography, 39 (9). 1633-1644.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N018172PP.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (4MB) | Preview


Aim: Our aims were to test: (1) the extent to which vascular plant associations are related in space to mammalian associations, and (2) whether the plant associations are more closely related than the mammalian associations to climate and to a published environmental stratification of Europe. Location: Europe, as defined by the following boundaries: 11° W, 32° E, 71° N and 35° N. Methods: The analysis is based on presence/absence records of mammal species and plant species with a resolution of 50 km × 50 km. The similarity of the overall spatial structure was tested using a partial Mantel test while controlling for the effect of geographical proximity. To further identify the main spatial components in the datasets, we used k-means clustering and principal components analysis. The resulting geographical patterns were compared with one another, with climate variables and with the environmental stratification of Europe. Results: The clustering of the plant data forms coherent areas that can be interpreted as reflections of floristic regions that are controlled to a large extent by climate and topography. In terms of the correlation between distance matrices, the relationship between plants and mammals is relatively strong. The relationships between mammals and climate, and between plants and climate, are more complex but always statistically significant. There is no evidence that the plant clusters are more closely related than the mammalian clusters to climate, although plant clusters are closer to environmental data than to climate. Main conclusions: The clustering patterns of mammals and plants form groups that agree with one another in their spatial extent. The forcing of floristic patterns into coherent entities appears mainly to be caused by climatic variables (temperature, temperature range and rainfall), mediated by elevation differences. The formation of individual plant clusters is also related to species numbers and to local and regional floristic differences. The close correlation between the floristic and faunal patterns suggests that the mammal and plant distributions are controlled by the same environmental variables, although the extent to which the mammals are controlled directly by climate or through the influence of vegetation requires more detailed study.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0305-0270
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article. The definitive version is available at
Additional Keywords: climate, cluster analysis, Europe, mammals, presence/absence data, principal components analysis, species distribution, vascular plants
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Date made live: 25 May 2012 09:40 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...