Evol Ecol Res 10: 987-1006 (2008)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

On the measurement of beta diversity: an analog of the species–area relationship for point sources

Krister T. Smith

Abteilung Messelforschung, Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Correspondence: K.T. Smith, Abteilung Messelforschung, Senckenberg Museum, Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
e-mail: krister.smith@senckenberg.de


Question: How can species–area relationships (SPARs) be studied in biotas where only data from isolated localities are available?

Data: The Breeding Bird Survey at a spatial scale of 102–103 km.

Analytic methods: I develop a method that involves numeric estimation of the shortest path connecting a set of localities and calculation of cumulative species richness (corrected for sample size) and distance along that path. The slope of the resulting species–distance relationship (SDR) is used as a measure of beta diversity.

Results: The slope of the SDR is insensitive to locality area and to inter-locality distance at the scales considered. It is, however, sensitive to the number of specimens per locality; in particular, the slope of the SDR declines as more specimens are included and is lowest when incidence data are used (i.e. all the specimens are included). The slope of the SDR is strongly correlated with and numerically similar to that of a corresponding SPAR. The slope of the relation between distance and similarity (measured as the Jaccard or Sørensen index) is also positively, but less strongly, correlated with the slope of the SPAR for these data.

Conclusions: The SDR is an analog for point sources of the SPAR. It estimates the SPAR slope more accurately than similarity metrics and sometimes just as precisely.

Keywords: Breeding Bird Survey, distance, fossil record, macroecology, paleoecology, sample size, similarity.

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