Plant invasion and speciation along elevational gradients on the oceanic island La Palma, Canary Islands

Journal article
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Steinbauer M, Irl SDH, Maria Gonzalez-Mancebo J, Breiner FT, Hernandez-Hernandez R, Hopfenmueller S, Kidane Y, Jentsch A, Beierkuhnlein C
Journal: Ecology and Evolution
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Publication year: 2017
Volume: 7
Journal issue: 2
Pages range: 771-779
ISSN: 2045-7758
Language: English


Ecosystems that provide environmental opportunities but are poor in species and functional richness generally support speciation as well as invasion processes. These processes are expected not to be equally effective along elevational gradients due to specific ecological, spatial, and anthropogenic filters, thus controlling the dispersal and establishment of species. Here, we investigate speciation and invasion processes along elevational gradients. We assess the vascular plant species richness as well as the number and percentage of endemic species and non-native species systematically along three elevational gradients covering large parts of the climatic range of La Palma, Canary Islands. Species richness was negatively correlated with elevation, while the percentage of Canary endemic species showed a positive relationship. However, the percentage of Canary–Madeira endemics did not show a relationship with elevation. Non-native species richness (indicating invasion) peaked at 500 m elevation and showed a consistent decline until about 1,200 m elevation. Above that limit, no non-native species were present in the studied elevational gradients. Ecological, anthropogenic, and spatial filters control richness, diversification, and invasion with elevation. With increase in elevation, richness decreases due to species–area relationships. Ecological limitations of native ruderal species related to anthropogenic pressure are in line with the absence of non-native species from high elevations indicating directional ecological filtering. Increase in ecological isolation with elevation drives diversification and thus increased percentages of Canary endemics. The best preserved eastern transect, including mature laurel forests, is an exception. The high percentage of Canary–Madeira endemics indicates the cloud forest's environmental uniqueness—and thus ecological isolation—beyond the Macaronesian islands.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Steinbauer, Manuel Prof. Dr.
Professur für System-Paläobiologie

External institutions with authors

Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft (WSL)
Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Universidad de La Laguna
Universität Bayreuth

How to cite

Steinbauer, M., Irl, S.D.H., Maria Gonzalez-Mancebo, J., Breiner, F.T., Hernandez-Hernandez, R., Hopfenmueller, S.,... Beierkuhnlein, C. (2017). Plant invasion and speciation along elevational gradients on the oceanic island La Palma, Canary Islands. Ecology and Evolution, 7(2), 771-779.

Steinbauer, Manuel, et al. "Plant invasion and speciation along elevational gradients on the oceanic island La Palma, Canary Islands." Ecology and Evolution 7.2 (2017): 771-779.


Last updated on 2018-11-11 at 13:50