Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2022, Vol. 14 ›› Issue (1): 54-67.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2022.21004.

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Geographic range size patterns across plants and animals of Xinjiang, China

LiPing Li1,ChunYan Zhang1,Eimear Nic Lughadha2,Tarciso C. C. Leão2,Kate Hardwick3,YaoMin Zheng4,HuaWei Wan5,Ming Ma6,Nurbay Abudusalih7,Hai Ying8,Pu Zhen9,JiangShan Lai10,ZhanFeng Shen1,Liu Li1,Tuo Wang1,YangMing Jiang1,HuiHui Zhao1,QingJie Liu1()   

  1. 1.Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China
    2.Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AE, UK
    3.Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wakehurst, Sussex, RH17 6TN, UK
    4.School of International Economics and Management, Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing 100048, China
    5.Satellite Environmental Application Center of Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Beijing 100094, China
    6.Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, Xinjiang 830011, China
    7.Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology of Ministry of Education, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Xinjiang University, Urumqi, Xinjiang 830046, China
    8.Department of Geology, Xinjiang Normal University, Urumqi, Xinjiang 830054, China
    9.School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
    10.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
  • Received:2021-03-12 Accepted:2021-09-13 Online:2022-02-28 Published:2022-03-03
  • Contact: QingJie Liu
  • Supported by:
    the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA26010101);the National Key Research and Development Program of China(2020YFC0832800);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41801366);NSFC-RS exchange project between China and UK(42011530175)


Patterns in species geographic range size are relatively well-known for vertebrates, but still poorly known for plants. Contrasts of these patterns between groups have rarely been investigated. With a detailed flora and fauna distribution database of Xinjiang, China, we used regression methods, redundancy analysis and random forests to explore the relationship of environment and body size with the geographic range size of plants, mammals and birds in Xinjiang and contrast these patterns between plants and animals. We found positive correlations between species range size and body size. The range size of plants was more influenced by water variables, while that of mammals and birds was largely influenced by temperature variables. The productivity variable, i.e., Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) was far more correlated with range size than climatic variables for both plants and animals, suggesting that vegetation productivity inferred from remote sensing data may be a good predictor of species range size for both plants and animals.

Key words: range size, body size, Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), arid region, conservation

Figure 1

The correlation of plant range area and height (herb, shrub and tree in green, red and blue color, respectively). The black line is the correlation line for whole plant species"

Figure 2

The correlation of plant range size and environmental variables"

Figure 3

The correlation of body mass and range size of mammals (a) and birds (b)(insignificant for birds with dashed line in (b))"

Figure 4

The correlation of mammal range size and environmental variables (insignificant for temperature seasonality with dashed line in (d))"

Figure 5

The correlation of bird range size and environmental variables"

Figure 6

The RDA analysis of range size and environmental variables, body size"

Table 1

The percentage of the variation in plant or animal range size explained by temperature, water, body size, topography, and vegetation productivity according to multiple regressions and their ANOVA decompositions"

VariablesPlant: log2(RA)Mammal: log2(RA)Bird: RA
Temperature+water+body mass+topo+productivity
Temperature seasonality0.0111.95***6.77***
Precipitation seasonality8.66***5.63***5.49***
log2(height), log2(weight)1.71***3.94**0.54 .
Altitudinal range5.36***0.030.07
Productivity+temperature+water+body mass+topo
Temperature seasonality0.32***4.44**1.28**
Precipitation seasonality6.18***5.48***2.48***
log2(height), log2(weight)2.37***4.03**0.79*
Altitudinal range5.12***0.050.36

Table 2

Relative importance of the variables (values are relative to the largest, set to 1.00) to predict the species range area, according to the increase in node purity with a random forest analysis. Values ≥0.6 are in bold"

VariablesPlant: log2(RA)Mammal: log2(RA)Bird: RA
Temperature seasonality0.580.450.45
Precipitation seasonality0.800.620.77
log2(height), log2(weight)
Altitudinal range0.770.510.45

Figure S1

Frequency distributions of plant range area"

Figure S2

Frequency distributions of plant height"

Figure S3

Frequency distributions of animal range area and body mass"

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