- Elevational gradients hold enormous potential for understanding general properties of biodiversity. Like latitudinal gradients, the hypotheses for diversity patterns can be grouped into historical explanations, climatic drivers, and spatial hypotheses. The spatial hypotheses include the species-area effect and spatial constraint (mid-domain effect null models). I test these two spatial hypotheses using regional diversity patterns for mammals (non-volant small mammals and bats) along 34 elevational gradients spanning 24.4 degrees S-40.4 degrees N latitude. There was high variability in the fit to the species-area hypothesis and the mid-domain effect. Both hypotheses can be eliminated as primary drivers of elevational diversity. Area and spatial constraint both represent sources of error rather than mechanisms underlying these mammalian diversity patterns. Similar results are expected for other vertebrate taxa, plants, and invertebrates since they show comparable distributions of elevational diversity patterns to mammalian patterns.