Co-limitation towards lower latitudes shapes global forest diversity gradients

Jingjing Liang*, Javier G.P. Gamarra, Nicolas Picard, Mo Zhou, Bryan Pijanowski, Douglass F. Jacobs, Peter B. Reich, Thomas W. Crowther, Gert Jan Nabuurs, Sergio de-Miguel, Jingyun Fang, Christopher W. Woodall, Jens Christian Svenning, Tommaso Jucker, Jean Francois Bastin, Susan K. Wiser, Ferry Slik, Bruno Hérault, Giorgio Alberti, Gunnar KeppelGeerten M. Hengeveld, Pierre L. Ibisch, Carlos A. Silva, Hans ter Steege, Pablo L. Peri, David A. Coomes, Eric B. Searle, Klaus von Gadow, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Akane O. Abbasi, Meinrad Abegg, Yves C. Adou Yao, Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez, Angelica M. Almeyda Zambrano, Jan Altman, Esteban Alvarez-Dávila, Juan Gabriel Álvarez-González, Luciana F. Alves, Bienvenu H.K. Amani, Christian A. Amani, Christian Ammer, Bhely Angoboy Ilondea, Clara Antón-Fernández, Valerio Avitabile, Gerardo A. Aymard, Akomian F. Azihou, Johan A. Baard, Timothy R. Baker, Radomir Balazy, Meredith L. Bastian, Rodrigue Batumike, Marijn Bauters, Hans Beeckman, Nithanel Mikael Hendrik Benu, Robert Bitariho, Pascal Boeckx, Jan Bogaert, Frans Bongers, Erwin Bulte, Mathieu Decuyper, Martin Herold, Amit Kumar, Lourens Poorter, Douglas Sheil, Fons van der Plas, Hua Feng Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG) is one of the most recognized global patterns of species richness exhibited across a wide range of taxa. Numerous hypotheses have been proposed in the past two centuries to explain LDG, but rigorous tests of the drivers of LDGs have been limited by a lack of high-quality global species richness data. Here we produce a high-resolution (0.025° × 0.025°) map of local tree species richness using a global forest inventory database with individual tree information and local biophysical characteristics from ~1.3 million sample plots. We then quantify drivers of local tree species richness patterns across latitudes. Generally, annual mean temperature was a dominant predictor of tree species richness, which is most consistent with the metabolic theory of biodiversity (MTB). However, MTB underestimated LDG in the tropics, where high species richness was also moderated by topographic, soil and anthropogenic factors operating at local scales. Given that local landscape variables operate synergistically with bioclimatic factors in shaping the global LDG pattern, we suggest that MTB be extended to account for co-limitation by subordinate drivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1423-1437
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2022


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