Sunday, April 05, 2009

Species Richness versus Community Similarity

Kindscher et al published a paper in 2004 that may be relevant to the statistical interpretation of VIBI plots as measures of ecosystem health. This paper, by Kindscher et al compared diversity of three taxa (plants, birds, and butterflies) in wet meadows in the Tetons and Gallatins. Their results suggest moving beyond species richness(alpha diversity) to other statistical interpretations of diversity. Specifically, they use a test that compares every pairing (beta diversity) of their study sites to measure community similarity "e.g. sites with similar bird communities also had similar butterfly communities". They found excellent correlations between community similarity (probably determined by abiotic factors e.g. moisture) but didn't find much of a correlation between species richness. Interesting!

Su, J.C., D.M. Debinski, M.E. Jakubauskas, and K. Kindscher. 2004. Beyond Species Richness: Community Similarity as a Measure of Cross-Taxon Congruence for Coarse-Filter Conservation. Conservation Biology 18:167-173.

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