Biodiversity Gradients

Bradford A. Hawkins

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Biodiversity Gradients

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  • Earth Sciences and Geography
  • Human Geography



The study of spatial variation in the numbers of species across the Earth represents a core research area of several scientific disciplines, including ecology, evolutionary biology, paleontology, biogeography, and conservation biology. It encompasses all groups of organisms, extant and extinct, all geographic areas from small islands to the globe, all time frames, including the future, and all biomes and habitats both wet and dry. Although broad-scale diversity patterns have been known since the late 18th century, until relatively recently most quantitative research focused on mountains, islands, coarsely defined regions, or small-scale community gradients, because of the limited availability of broad-scale distributional data. Data remain limited for many groups of organisms, especially in the hyperdiverse tropics, but many biologists sense that time may be running out for diversity as we move into a new mass extinction episode resulting from invasive species, global climate change, and habitat destruction. This has greatly stimulated the generation and distribution of the geographic data on which diversity gradient analyses are based. The increasing availability of phylogenies for ever larger and more inclusive groups is also revolutionizing how diversity analyses are conducted and interpreted.

Article.  7611 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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