Questioning Israel's Great Biodiversity—Relative to Whom? A Comment on Roll et al., 2009

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Each evolutionary-independent province has its own mainland species area relationship (SPAR). When using the power law SPAR (S = cAz), separate mainland SPARs are parallel in a log-log space (similar z value), yet they differ in species density per unit area (c value). This implies that there are two main SPAR-based strategies to identify biodiversity hotspots. The first treats all mainland SPARs of all provinces as if they form one global SPAR. This is the strategy employed by Roll et al. (2009) when questioning Israel's high biodiversity. They concluded that Israel is not a global biodiversity hotspot. Their results may arise from the fact that Israel's province, the Palaearctic, is relatively poor. Therefore, countries from richer provinces, whose mainland SPAR lies above the Palaearctic SPAR, are identified as global hotspots. The second strategy is to construct different mainland SPARs for each province and identify the provincial hotspots. In this manuscript I ask whether Israel's biodiversity is high relative to other countries within its province. For six different taxa, I analyzed data for Palaearctic countries. For each taxon, I conducted a linear regression of species richness against the country's area, both log transformed. The studentized residuals were used to explore Israel's rank relative to all other Palaearctic countries. I found that Israel lies above the 95th percentile for reptiles and mammals and above the 90th percentile for birds. Therefore, within the Palaearctic province, Israel is indeed a biodiversity hotspot.

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