Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 75–96 | Cite as

Role of way of life, latitude, elevation and climate on the richness and distribution of orchid species

  • Spyros Tsiftsis
  • Zuzana Štípková
  • Pavel Kindlmann
Original Paper


We are experiencing climate warming that is likely to affect all regions worldwide, although in a different manner, when its consequences (e.g. increase of temperature, lower seasonality, lower environmental stochasticity) are considered. Thus, our prediction of how global change will affect distribution and survival of species can be estimated by using our knowledge, how species richness and distribution is related with latitude and elevation. We used 193 terrestrial orchid species and subspecies as an example and we classified them according to their root system. This trait represents the evolution of strategies for underground storage of resources and resource acquisition as well as a characteristics that can be described as a life history trait. Classification of orchid life history traits that focus on belowground strategies has never been examined in a macroecological study. We then explored the associations between species richness, mean niche breadth and mean distribution on one hand and selected predictors on the other hand, using regression techniques for all orchids, and then for their subsets with different root systems. The predictive power, as well as the significance of the predictors, was also tested using polynomial second order generalized linear models. Species richness for the three belowground strategies was significantly affected by the predictors, whereas their mean niche breadth and mean distribution were largely dependent on their evolutionary history. The correlations of mean niche breadth and mean distribution with maximum elevation, latitude and longitude were significant for all orchid taxa and their subsets. All the variables together accounted for almost 50% or more of the variance in each of the subsets. The maximum elevation was the most significant factor for rhizomatous and intermediate orchids, whereas minimum temperature in the coldest month was highly significant for the tuberous orchids. Spatial distribution of Greek orchids is associated with a combination of elevation, latitude and climate. The distributions of rhizomatous and intermediate orchids are mainly associated with the orographic configuration of Greece, whereas the tuberous orchids are widely distributed in the southern, central and north-western areas of Greece, where most of them are limited by the harsh winter climate.


Diversity Elevational gradient Latitudinal gradient Macroecological preferences Calcareous substrates Mean distribution Niche breadth 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic Grant No. LO1415 to ZS and ST and by the Grant No. GB14-36098G of the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic to PK. We are grateful to Dr. Schatz Bertrand, and an anonymous reviewer, who provided valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript. We also thank Tony Dixon for his assistance to the linguistic improvement of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 130 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 83 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 78 kb)
10531_2018_1637_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (XLSX 25 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Natural Environment ManagementEastern Macedonia and Thrace Institute of TechnologyDramaGreece
  2. 2.Global Change Research Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Faculty of Science, Institute for Environmental StudiesCharles UniversityPrague 2Czech Republic

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