Scorpion biodiversity and interslope divergence at "Evolution Canyon", Lower Nahal Oren Microsite, Mt. Carmel, Israel

Shmuel Raz, Sion Retzkin, Tomáš Pavliček, Adam Hoffman, Hagay Kimchi, Dan Zehavi, Avigdor Beiles, Eviatar Nevo

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Background: Local natural laboratories, designated by us as the "Evolution Canyon" model, are excellent tools to study regional and global ecological dynamics across life. They present abiotic and biotic contrasts locally, permitting the pursuit of observations and experiments across diverse taxa sharing sharp microecological subdivisions. Higher solar radiation received by the "African savannah-like" south-facing slopes (AS) in canyons north of the equator than by the opposite "European maquis-like" north-facing slopes (ES) is associated with higher abiotic stress. Scorpions are a suitable taxon to study interslope biodiversity differences, associated with the differences in abiotic factors (climate, drought), due to their ability to adapt to dry environments. Methodology/Principal Findings: Scorpions were studied by the turning stone method and by UV light methods. The pattern observed in scorpions was contrasted with similar patterns in several other taxa at the same place. As expected, the AS proved to be significantly more speciose regarding scorpions, paralleling the interslope patterns in taxa such as lizards and snakes, butterflies (Rhopalocera), beetles (families Tenebrionidae, Dermestidae, Chrysomelidae), and grasshoppers (Orthoptera). Conclusions/Significance: Our results support an earlier conclusion stating that the homogenizing effects of migration and stochasticity are not able to eliminate the interslope intra- and interspecific differences in biodiversity despite an interslope distance of only 100 m at the "EC" valley bottom. In our opinion, the interslope microclimate selection, driven mainly by differences in insolance, could be the primary factor responsible for the observed interslope pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5214
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 9 Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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