Hot-Spot Facts and Artifacts-Questioning Israel's Great Biodiversity

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
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  • 1 Biomathematics Unit, Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University
  • 2 Biomathematics Unit, Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University
  • 3 Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University

Israel's biological diversity has been praised as being particularly rich in relation to its size; however this assumption was never tested when taking into account the empirical form of the species-area relationship. Here we compared the species richness of different countries to see if the Israeli diversity is exceptionally rich when area is accurately accounted for. We compared richness of amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles, flowering plants, conifers and cycads, and ferns in all the world's countries. We further tested the effects of mean latitude, altitude span, and insularity on species richness both for all world countries and just for Mediterranean countries. For all taxa and in all tests, Israel lies within the prediction intervals of the models. Out of 42 tests, Israel's residuals lie in the upper decile of positive residuals once: for reptiles, when compared to all world countries, taking all predicting factors into account. Using only countries larger than 1000 km2, Israel was placed as top residual when compared to other Mediterranean countries for mammals and reptiles. We therefore conclude that Israel's species richness does not significantly exceed the expected values for a country its size. This is true when comparing it to either world or just Mediterranean countries. Adding more predicting factors does not change this fact.

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