Separation of biotic and abiotic impacts on species diversity distribution patterns across a significant climatic gradient is a challenge in the study of diversity maintenance mechanisms. The basic task is to reconcile scale-dependent effects of abiotic and biotic processes on species distribution models. Here, we used a hierarchical modeling method to detect the host specificities of bark beetles (Scolytinae and Platypodinae) with their dependent tree communities across a steep climatic gradient, which was embedded within a relatively homogenous spatial niche.
Species turnover of both trees and bark beetles have an opposite pattern along the climatic proxy (represented by the elevation gradients) at the regional scale, but not at local spatial scales. This pattern confirmed the hypothesis wherein emphasis was on influences of macro-climate on local biotic interactions between trees and hosted bark beetle communities, whereas local biotic relations, represented by host specificity dependence, were regionally conserved.
At a confined spatial scale, cross-taxa comparisons of β-diversity highlighted the importance of simultaneous impacts from both extrinsic factors related to geography and environment, and intrinsic factors related to organism characteristics. The effects of tree abundance and phylogeny diversity on bark beetle diversity were, to a large extent, indirect, operating via changes in bark beetle abundance through spatial and temporal dynamics of resources distribution. Tree host dependence, which was considered and represented by host specificities, plays a minor role on the hosted beetle community in this concealed wood decomposing interacting system.