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.
Aharoni, J. 1929. Birds of Palestine. Unpublished typescript based on a series of articles originally published in "lines of communication", Jerusalem (Typescript held by the Natural History Museum, Tring, UK).
Alon, A. 1990. Plants and animals of Israel, vol. 1, Introductions and indexes. Ministry of Defense Publishing, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Arrhenius, O. 1921. Species and area. J. Ecol. 9: 95-99.
Brummitt, N., Lughadha, E. N. 2003. Biodiversity: where's hot and where's not. Cons. Bio. 17: 1442-1448.
Ferrier, S. 2002. Mapping spatial pattern in biodiversity for regional conservation planning: where to from here? Syst. Biol. 51: 331-363.
Gray, J. S., Ugland, K. I., Lambshead, J. 2004. Species accumulation and species area curves — a comment on Scheiner (2003). Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 13: 473-476.
Guilhaumon, F., Gimenez, O., Gaston, K. J., Mouillot, D. 2008. Taxonomic and regional uncertainty in species-area relationships and the identification of richness hotspots. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 15458-15463.
Heller, D., Livne, M. 1982. Plants and animals of Israel, vol. 10. Flowering plants A. Ministry of Defense Publishing House, Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Kelt, D. A., Brown, J. H., Heske, E. J., Marquet, P. A., Morton, S. R., Reid, J. R. W., Rogovin, K. A., Shenbrot, G. 1996. Community structure of desert small mammals: comparisons across four continents. Ecology 77: 746-761.
Lomolino, M. V. 2000. Ecology's most general, yet protean pattern: the species-area relationship. J. Biogeo. 27: 17-26.
Lomolino, M. V., Riddle, B. P., Brown, J. H. 2005. Biogeography. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, MA.
Losos, J. B., Schluter, D. 2000. Analysis of an evolutionary species-area relationship. Nature 408: 847-850.
Macarthur, R. H., Wilson, E. O. 1967. The theory of island biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J.
Mace, G. M., Balmford, A., Boitani, L., Cowlishaw, G., Dobson, A. P., Faith, D. P., Gaston, K. J., Humphries, C. J., Vane-Wright, R. I., Williams, P. H., Lawton, J. H., Margules, C. R., May, R. M., Nicholls, A. O., Possingham, H. P., Rahbek, C., Van Jaarsveld, A. S. 2000. It's time to work together and stop duplicating conservation efforts. Nature 405: 393-393.
Myers, N. 1988. Threatened biotas: "hot-spots" in tropical forests. The Environmentalist 8: 187-208.
Myers, N. 2003. Biodiversity hotspots revisited. Bioscience 53: 916-917.
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., Da Fonseca, G. A. B., Kent, J. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853-858.
Netanyahu, B. 1957. The Hebrew encyclopedia—general, Jewish and Israeli. Vol. 6, The land of Israel. The Encyclopedia Publishing House Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel.
Olson, D. M., Dinerstein, E. 1998. The global 200: a representation approach to conserving the earth's most biologically valuable ecoregions. Cons. Bio. 12: 502-515.
Orme, C. D. L., Davies, R. G., Burgess, M., Eigenbrod, F., Pickup, N., Olson, V. A., Webster, A. J., Ding, T. S., Rasmussen, P. C., Ridgely, R. S., Stattersfield, A. J., Bennett, P. M., Blackburn, T. M., Gaston, K. J., Owens, I. P. F. 2005. Global hotspots of species richness are not congruent with endemism or threat. Nature 436: 1016-1019.
Ovadia, O. 2003. Ranking hotspots of varying sizes: A lesson from the nonlinearity of the species-area relationship. Cons. Bio. 17: 1440-1441.
Preston, F. W. 1962. The canonical distribution of commonness and rarity: part I. Ecology 43: 185-215.
Reid, W. V. 1998. Biodiversity hotspots. Trends Ecol. Evol. 13: 275-280.
Rosenzweig, M. L. 1992. Species-diversity gradients—we know more and less than we thought. J Mammal. 73: 715-730.
Rosenzweig, M. L. 1995. Species diversity in space and time. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Scheiner, S. M. 2003. Six types of species-area curves. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 12: 441-447.
Scheiner, S. M. 2004. A melange of curves—further dialogue about species-area relationships. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 13: 479-484.
Schoener, T. W. 1976. The species-area relation within archipelagos: models and evidence from island land birds. In: Proceedings of the 16th International Ornithological Conference, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra, pp. 629-642.
Tchernov, E., Yom-Tov, Y. 1988. Zoogeography of Israel. In: Yom-Tov Y., Tchernov E. eds. The zoogeography of Israel, the distribution and abundance at a zoogeographical crossroad, Dr W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands. pp. 1-6.
Tristram, H. B. 1865. The land of Israel: a journal of travels in Palestine. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London.
Tristram, H. B. 1885. The survey of western Palestine. The fauna and flora of Palestine. The Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, London.
Ulrich, W., Buszko, J. 2005. Detecting biodiversity hotspots using species-area and endemics-area relationships: the case of butterflies. Biodiver. Cons. 14: 1977-1988.
Vermeij, G. J. 1991. When biotas meet: understanding biotic interchange. Science 253: 1099-1104.
Watson, H. C. 1835. Remarks on the geographical distribution of plants. Longmans, London.
Werner, Y. L. 1987. Ecological zoogeography of the Saharo-Arabian, Saharan and Arabian reptiles in the desert sands of Israel. In: Krupp, F., Schneider, W., Kinzelbach, R. K., eds. Symposium on the fauna and zoogeography of the Middle East, Beiheft 28A. Wiesbaden: Tuebingen Atlas des Vorderen Orients, pp. 272-295.
Whittaker, R. J., Araujo, M. B., Paul, J., Ladle, R. J., Watson, J. E. M., Willis, K. J. 2005. Conservation biogeography: assessment and prospect. Divers. Distrib. 11: 3-23.
Zar, J. H. 1999. Biostatistical analysis, 4th edn. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, N. J.