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Patterns and drivers of zoogeographical regions of terrestrial vertebrates in China

He, Jiekun, Kreft, Holger, Gao, Erhu, Wang, Zhichen, Jiang, Haisheng
Journal of biogeography 2017 v.44 no.5 pp. 1172-1184
climate, climate change, cluster analysis, ectothermy, endothermy, linear models, multidimensional scaling, plateaus, quantitative analysis, species diversity, vegetation, vertebrates, zoogeography, China, Himalayan region, Taiwan
AIM: Zoogeographical regionalizations have recently seen a revived interest, which has provided new insights into biogeographical patterns. However, few quantitative studies have focused on zoogeographical regions of China. Here, we analyse zoogeographical regions for terrestrial vertebrates in China and how these regions relate to environmental and geological drivers and evaluate levels of cross‐taxon congruence. LOCATION: China. METHODS: We applied hierarchical clustering and non‐metric multidimensional scaling ordination to βₛᵢₘ dissimilarity matrices to delineate zoogeographical regions of China, based on the species distribution of 2102 terrestrial vertebrates in 50 × 50 km grid cells. We used generalized linear models and deviance partitioning to investigate the roles of current climate, past climate change, vegetation and geological processes in shaping the zoogeographical regions. Finally, we used Mantel and Kruskal–Wallis tests to evaluate the levels of cross‐taxon congruence. RESULTS: Cluster analyses revealed 10 major zoogeographical regions: South China, the Yungui Plateau, Taiwan, North China, Northeast China, the Inner Mongolia Plateau, Northwest China, the Longzhong Plateau, the Tibetan Plateau and East Himalaya. In contrast to previous regionalizations, a major split was identified by clustering grid cell assemblages and dividing the eastern and western parts of China, followed by the northern part of China. Deviance partitioning showed that current climate and geological processes explained most of the deviance both jointly and independently. Congruence in species composition of endotherms and ectotherms was surprisingly low. MAIN CONCLUSIONS: We propose new zoogeographical regions for China based on our quantitative methods. In contrast to previous regionalizations, we consider Central China as a part of South China and identify the Longzhong Plateau and Taiwan as independent regions. While our results strongly support the notion of a broad biogeographical transition zone in East Asia, they also suggest a major south–north‐oriented Palaearctic‐Oriental boundary in China.