On species richness and rarefaction: size- and coverage-based techniques quantify different characteristics of richness change in biodiversity
journal contributionposted on 09.07.2018, 12:46 by Hideyasu Shimadzu
Changes in biodiversity today shape the future patterns of biodiversity. This fact underlines the importance of understanding changes in biodiversity through time and space. The number of species, known as species richness, has long been studied as a key indicator that quantifies the state of biodiversity, and standardisation techniques, called rarefaction, have also been used to undertake a fair comparison of the richness observed at different times or locations. The present study asks whether utilising different rarefaction techniques attains comparable results when investigating changes in species richness. The study framework presents the statistical nature of two commonly adopted rarefaction techniques: size-based and coverage-based rarefaction. The key finding is that the rarefied richness results calculated by these two different rarefaction methods reflect different aspects of biodiversity change, the shift in community size and/or composition. This fact illuminates that richness analyses based on different rarefaction techniques can reach different conclusions that may be contradictory. The study also investigates the mechanism creating such divergence. As such, special care is required when evaluating biodiversity change using species richness as an indicator.
- Mathematical Sciences