Biodiversity patterns are the result of the interaction of numerous contemporary factors and historical opportunities for allopatric speciation. Several hypotheses regarding climatic features and topographic characteristics have been reported as determinants of species richness along elevation gradients. However, how these factors interact to shape small mammal species richness along the dry Andes ecosystem is not well understood. The objectives of this paper were to analyze patterns of species diversity along the central dry Andes, and to evaluate how climatic and topographic factors explain diversity patterns. Our results showed a positive and monotonic relationship between small mammal species richness and altitude, whereas abundance patterns showed a midelevation peak. Climate and topography were the most important predictor variables explaining small mammal species richness and abundance patterns in the Andes. This study underlines the role of the Andes in promoting and sustaining biodiversity, as well as the need to encourage conservation planning in mountain ecosystems.
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