Chinese researchers have recently revealed different mechanisms regulating plant diversity in tropical archipelagoes, according to the South China Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Despite significant research in the field of island biogeography, our understanding of biodiversity and biological resources on most of China's marine islands remains limited due to the high costs and difficulties associated with island studies.
Researchers at the botanical garden selected two archipelagoes, including 16 tropical coral islands and 21 tropical continental islands, and analyzed the plant species diversity data and soil elements of 589 quadrats.
They found that the distribution pattern of plant species diversity in the two archipelagoes is in accordance with the classic biogeography species-area relationship theory, which dictates that the larger the island area, the higher the species diversity. But they also discovered that there are different mechanisms maintaining plant diversity in the two archipelagoes.
For the coral islands, they found that soil nutrients and spatial distance among communities play major roles in shaping plant community structure and species diversity. In contrast, they found that the direct effect of island area determines plant species richness on the continental islands, followed by the effect of soil nutrients.
The study has been published in the Plant Diversity journal.