A quantitative topographic analysis of the Sky Islands: a closer examination of the topography-biodiversity relationship in the Madrean ArchipelagoThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The relationship between topography and biodiversity is well documented in the Madrean Archipelago. However, despite this recognition, most biogeographical studies concerning the role of topography have relied primarily on a qualitative description of the landscape. Using an algorithm that operates on a high-resolution digital elevation model we present a quantitative analysis of the topographic fabric in the Madrean Archipelago and explored its utility by evaluating a topography-based predicted biodiversity map. In general, we find excellent agreement between the predicted and observed (based on land cover imagery) biodiversity throughout much of the Sky Island region. While readily acknowledging that many other biological factors influence biodiversity, this study establishes an important first-order estimate of the role topography plays in the regional- to continental-scale biodiversity, particularly in regions characterized by insular mountain fabrics such as the Sky Island region.