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  • 1 Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
  • 2 Georg-August-University Göttingen, Büsgenweg 5, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany
  • 3 University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
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The geographical patterns of tree species richness in forest communities have been studied widely, but little is known about the geographical variation of the estimated species richness and minimum areas using species-area curves. A differential technique based on the species-area relationships (SAR) was developed for estimating the minimum area (Amin) capturing 60- 80% of the species in each plot, which is an important characteristic of a forest community. The relationship between estimated species richness (ESR) from the SAR and the corresponding minimum area is described by the linear model ESR = 0.0051×Amin (R2 = 0.98, p < 0.0001). Both the ESR and the minimum area exhibit similar geographical variations with a significant increase along altitudinal and a decrease along latitudinal gradients. The spatial variations of the ESR were partitioned into three geographical components and their combined effects. Altitude accounted for 40% and 45% of the total variation in the ESR and the minimum area, respectively. While latitude accounted for 69% and 61% of the total variation in the ESR and the minimum area, respectively. Thus, latitude is the main determinant which influences the geographical variation of the ESR. As far as we know, this study presents the first report of the geographical patterns of the minimum area in temperate forests.

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