54 research outputs found

    An empirical evaluation of four variants of a universal species-area relationship

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    The Maximum Entropy Theory of Ecology (METE) predicts a universal species-area relationship (SAR) that can be fully characterized using only the total abundance (N) and species richness (S) at a single spatial scale. This theory has shown promise for characterizing scale dependence in the SAR. However, there are currently four different approaches to applying METE to predict the SAR and it is unclear which approach should be used due to a lack of empirical evaluation. Specifically, METE can be applied recursively or a non-recursively and can use either a theoretical or observed species-abundance distribution (SAD). We compared the four different combinations of approaches using empirical data from 16 datasets containing over 1000 species and 300,000 individual trees and herbs. In general, METE accurately downscaled the SAR (R^2> 0.94), but the recursive approach consistently under-predicted richness, and METEs accuracy did not depend strongly on using the observed or predicted SAD. This suggests that best approach to scaling diversity using METE is to use a combination of non-recursive scaling and the theoretical abundance distribution, which allows predictions to be made across a broad range of spatial scales with only knowledge of the species richness and total abundance at a single scale.Comment: main text: 20 pages, 2 tables, 3 figure

    Spatial and Temporal Scaling of Species Composition at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Oklahoma: Implications for Theory and Conservation

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    The objective of this study was to advance our understanding of the drivers of species turnover using scaling relationships and patterns of species composition. To accomplish this objective I performed four studies in which: 1) I provided the meta-data for a long-term, multi-scale study on the vascular plants of a tallgrass prairie, 2) I developed a model of the species-time-area relationship (STAR) based on the sampling effect and compared it to an empirical STAR from a tallgrass prairie, 3) I tested if the rate of environmental and community distance decay were positively correlated in two habitat types, and 4) I quantified the importance of management-based heterogeneity relative to inherent sources of spatiotemporal heterogeneity on species richness and composition of a tallgrass prairie plant community over a period of 11 years. All four of these studies were based upon vegetation samples collected at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, Oklahoma. Additional data were collected on soil cations and climate at the study site. Management records were provided by The Nature Conservancy who owned and managed the preserve. Findings and Conclusions: I found that the sampling effect generated a STAR that was similar to the empirical relationship under certain conditions. Our model demonstrated that non-zero time-by-area interactions, which are the most important quantitative aspect of the STAR, are not necessarily attributable to ecological drivers and may result instead from a purely neutral sampling process. The geometry of the environment, as quantified by the rate of environmental distance decay, was positively correlated with the rate of species turnover in the grassland but not the woodland habitat. This suggests that one of the central tenets of the Environmental Texture Hypothesis is relevant at local spatial scales under certain conditions. Management had a significant but relatively unimportant influence of both species richness and composition of the tallgrass prairie plant community. Site effects were the most important source of heterogeneity, but year effects were comparable with respect to richness. The exact details of management may not be as critical for maintaining tallgrass prairie plant communities as long as woody plant encroachment is kept in check.Department of Botan

    Examining the assumptions of heterogeneity-based management for promoting plant diversity in a disturbance-prone ecosystem

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    Background Patch-burn management approaches attempt to increase overall landscape biodiversity by creating a mosaic of habitats using a patchy application of fire and grazing. We tested two assumptions of the patch-burn approach, namely that: (1) fire and grazing drive spatial patch differentiation in community structure and (2) species composition of patches change through time in response to disturbance. Methods We analyzed species cover data on 100 m2 square quadrats from 128 sites located on a 1 ├Ś 1 km UTM grid in the grassland habitats of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. A total of 20 of these sites were annually sampled for 12 years. We examined how strongly changes in species richness and species composition correlated with changes in management variables relative to independent spatial and temporal drivers using multiple regression and direct ordination, respectively. Results Site effects, probably due to edaphic differences, explained the majority of variation in richness and composition. Interannual variation in fire and grazing management was relatively unimportant relative to inherent site and year drivers with respect to both richness and composition; however, the effects of fire and grazing variables were statistically significant and interpretable, and bison management was positively correlated with plant richness. Conclusions There was some support for the two assumptions of patch-burn management we examined; however, in situ spatial and temporal environmental heterogeneity played a much larger role than management in shaping both plant richness and composition. Our results suggest that fine-tuning the application of fire and grazing may not be critical for maintaining landscape scale plant diversity in disturbance-prone ecosystems

    A multiscale framework for disentangling the roles of evenness, density, and aggregation on diversity gradients

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    Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Ecological Society of America Disentangling the drivers of diversity gradients can be challenging. The Measurement of Biodiversity (MoB) framework decomposes scale-dependent changes in species diversity into three components of community structure: species abundance distribution (SAD), total community abundance, and within-species spatial aggregation. Here we extend MoB from categorical treatment comparisons to quantify variation along continuous geographic or environmental gradients. Our approach requires sites along a gradient, each consisting of georeferenced plots of abundance-based species composition data. We demonstrate our method using a case study of ants sampled along an elevational gradient of 28 sites in a mixed deciduous forest of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA. MoB analysis revealed that decreases in ant species richness along the elevational gradient were associated with decreasing evenness and total number of species, which counteracted the modest increase in richness associated with decreasing spatial aggregation along the gradient. Total community abundance had a negligible effect on richness at all but the finest spatial grains, SAD effects increased in importance with sampling effort, and the aggregation effect had the strongest effect at coarser spatial grains. These results do not support the more-individuals hypothesis, but they are consistent with a hypothesis of stronger environmental filtering at coarser spatial grains. Our extension of MoB has the potential to elucidate how components of community structure contribute to changes in diversity along environmental gradients and should be useful for a variety of assemblage-level data collected along gradients

    Measurement of Biodiversity (MoB): A method to separate the scale-dependent effects of species abundance distribution, density, and aggregation on diversity change

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    Little consensus has emerged regarding how proximate and ultimate drivers such as productivity, disturbance and temperature may affect species richness and other aspects of biodiversity. Part of the confusion is that most studies examine species richness at a single spatial scale and ignore how the underlying components of species richness can vary with spatial scale. We provide an approach for the measurement of biodiversity that decomposes changes in species rarefaction curves into proximate components attributed to: (a) the species abundance distribution, (b) density of individuals and (c) the spatial arrangement of individuals. We decompose species richness by comparing spatial and nonspatial sample- and individual-based species rarefaction curves that differentially capture the influence of these components to estimate the relative importance of each in driving patterns of species richness change. We tested the validity of our method on simulated data, and we demonstrate it on empirical data on plant species richness in invaded and uninvaded woodlands. We integrated these methods into a new r package (mobr). The metrics that mobr provides will allow ecologists to move beyond comparisons of species richness in response to ecological drivers at a single spatial scale toward a dissection of the proximate components that determine species richness across scales

    Mediterranean marine protected areas have higher biodiversity via increased evenness, not abundance

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    1. Protected areas are central to biodiversity conservation. For marine fish, marine protected areas (MPAs) often harbour more individuals, especially of species targeted by fisheries. But precise pathways of biodiversity change remain unclear. For example, how local-scale responses combine to affect regional biodiversity, important for managing spatial networks of MPAs, is not well known. Protection potentially influences three components of fish assemblages that determine how species accumulate with sampling effort and spatial scale: the total number of individuals, the relative abundance of species and within-species aggregation. Here, we examined the contributions of each component to species richness changes inside MPAs as a function of spatial scale. 2. Using standardized underwater visual survey data, we measured the abundance and species richness of reef fishes in 43 protected and 41 fished sites in the Mediterranean Sea. 3. At both local and regional scales, increased species evenness caused by added common species in MPAs compared to fished sites was the most important proximate driver of higher diversity. 4. Site-to-site variation in the composition (i.e. ╬▓-diversity) of common species was also higher among protected sites, and depended on sensitivity to exploitation. There were more abundant exploited species at regional scales than at local scales, reflecting a tendency for different protected sites to harbour different exploited species. In contrast, fewer abundant unexploited species were found at the regional scale than at the local scale, meaning that relative abundances at the regional scale were less even than at the local scale. 5. Synthesis and applications. Although marine protected areas (MPAs) are known to strongly influence fish community abundance and biomass, we found that changes to the relative abundance of species (i.e. increased evenness) dominated the biodiversity response to protection. MPAs had more relatively common species, which in turn led to higher diversity for a given sampling effort. Moreover, higher ╬▓-diversity of common species meant that local-scale responses were magnified at the regional scale due to site-to-site variation inside protected areas for exploited species. Regional conservation efforts can be strengthened by examining how multiple components of biodiversity respond to protection across spatial scales

    Synthesis reveals approximately balanced biotic differentiation and homogenization

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    This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (FZT 118, to S.A.B., T.E., A.S., R.v.K., W.-B.X., and J.M.C.) and ERC GA 101044975 and the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (to M.D.). This work was also supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) project ÔÇťEstablishment of the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI)ÔÇŁ in the consortium NFDI4Biodiversity (project number 442032008) (to T.E.), European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 894644 (to I.S.M.), USDA Hatch grant MAFES #1011538 and NSF EPSCOR Track II grant #2019470 (to B.M.), and NSF Track II grant #2019470 (to N.J.G.).It is commonly thought that the biodiversity crisis includes widespread declines in the spatial variation of species composition, called biotic homogenization. Using a typology relating homogenization and differentiation to local and regional diversity changes, we synthesize patterns across 461 metacommunities surveyed for 10 to 91 years, and 64 species checklists (13 to 500+ years). Across all datasets, we found that no change was the most common outcome, but with many instances of homogenization and differentiation. A weak homogenizing trend of a 0.3% increase in species shared among communities/year on average was driven by increased numbers of widespread (high occupancy) species and strongly associated with checklist data that have longer durations and large spatial scales. At smaller spatial and temporal scales, we show that homogenization and differentiation can be driven by changes in the number and spatial distributions of both rare and common species. The multiscale perspective introduced here can help identify scale-dependent drivers underpinning biotic differentiation and homogenization.Peer reviewe

    Supplementary information files for Regional occupancy increases for widespread species but decreases for narrowly distributed species in metacommunity time series

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    Supplementary files for article Regional occupancy increases for widespread species but decreases for narrowly distributed species in metacommunity time series   While human activities are known to elicit rapid turnover in species composition through time, the properties of the species that increase or decrease their spatial occupancy underlying this turnover are less clear. Here, we used an extensive dataset of 238 metacommunity time series of multiple taxa spread across the globe to evaluate whether species that are more widespread (large-ranged species) differed in how they changed their site occupancy over the10-90 years the metacommunities were monitored relative to species that are more narrowly distributed (small-ranged species). We found that on average, large-ranged species tended to increase in occupancy through time, whereas small-ranged species tended to decrease. These relationships were stronger in marine than in terrestrial and freshwater realms. However, in terrestrial regions, the directional changes in occupancy were less extreme in protected areas. Our findings provide evidence for systematic decreases in occupancy of small-ranged species, and that habitat protection could mitigate these losses in the face of environmental change.</p
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