Global variation in elevational diversity patterns
While horizontal gradients of biodiversity have been examined extensively in the past, vertical diversity gradients (elevation, water depth) are attracting increasing attention. We compiled data from 443 elevational gradients involving diverse organisms worldwide to investigate how elevational diversity patterns may vary between the Northern and Southern hemispheres and across latitudes. Our results show that most elevational diversity curves are positively skewed (maximum diversity below the middle of the gradient) and the elevation of the peak in diversity increases with the elevation of lower sampling limits and to a lesser extent with upper limit. Mountains with greater elevational extents, and taxonomic groups that are more inclusive, show proportionally more unimodal patterns whereas other ranges and taxa show highly variable gradients. The two hemispheres share some interesting similarities but also remarkable differences, likely reflecting differences in landmass and mountain configurations. Different taxonomic groups exhibit diversity peaks at different elevations, probably reflecting both physical and physiological constraints.