Brian J Mcgill

Brian J Mcgill
University of Maine | UM · School of Biology and Ecology & Sustainability Solutions Initiative

PhD, University of Arizona

About

163
Publications
70,146
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
17,081
Citations
Citations since 2017
42 Research Items
10464 Citations
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
Education
August 1997 - June 2003
The University of Arizona
Field of study
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
September 1984 - June 1988
Harvard University
Field of study
  • Mathematics

Publications

Publications (163)
Article
Full-text available
Patterns of biodiversity provide insights into the processes that shape biological communities around the world. Variation in species diversity along biogeographical or ecological gradients, such as latitude or precipitation, can be attributed to variation in different components of biodiversity: changes in the total abundance (i.e., more-individua...
Article
Full-text available
Biotic homogenization—increasing similarity of species composition among ecological communities—has been linked to anthropogenic processes operating over the last century. Fossil evidence, however, suggests that humans have had impacts on ecosystems for millennia. We quantify biotic homogenization of North American mammalian assemblages during the...
Preprint
Earth’s biodiversity continues to change rapidly through the Anthropocene ¹ , including widespread reordering of species in space 2,3 and time 4,5 . A common expectation of this reordering is that the species composition of sites is becoming increasingly similar across space, known as biotic homogenization, due to anthropogenic pressures and invasi...
Preprint
Patterns of biodiversity provide insights into the processes that shape biological communities around the world. Variation in species diversity along biogeographical or ecological gradients, such as latitude or precipitation, can be attributed to variation in different components of biodiversity: changes in the total abundance (i.e. more-individual...
Preprint
Patterns of biodiversity provide insights into the processes that shape biological communities around the world. Variation in species diversity along biogeographical or ecological gradients, such as latitude or precipitation, can be attributed to variation in different components of biodiversity: changes in the total abundance (i.e. more-individual...
Article
Full-text available
Addressing global environmental challenges requires access to biodiversity data across wide spatial, temporal and taxonomic scales. Availability of such data has increased exponentially recently with the proliferation of biodiversity databases. However, heterogeneous coverage, protocols, and standards have hampered integration among these databases...
Article
Full-text available
Social change in any society entails changes in both behaviours and institutions. We model a group-structured society in which the transmission of individual behaviour occurs in parallel with the selection of group-level institutions. We consider a cooperative behaviour that generates collective benefits for groups but does not spread between indiv...
Article
Full-text available
Evenness is a key community property that provides insights into resource acquisition and ecosystem functioning. However, it is unclear how other community properties influence evenness after integrating the effect of environmental gradients. Using 49 neotropical bat communities, we tested the hypothesis that evenness increases in communities that...
Article
Full-text available
The species composition of plant and animal assemblages across the globe has changed substantially over the past century. How do the dynamics of individual species cause this change? We classified species into seven unique categories of temporal dynamics based on the ordered sequence of presences and absences that each species contributes to an ass...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how species are non‐randomly distributed in space and how the resulting spatial structure responds to ecological, biogeographic, and anthropogenic drivers is a critical piece of the biodiversity puzzle. However, most metrics that quantify the spatial structure of diversity (i.e., community differentiation), such as Whittaker’s β‐diver...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biodiversity metrics often integrate data on the presence and abundance of multiple species. Yet understanding covariation of changes to the numbers of individuals, the evenness of species’ relative abundances, and the total number of species remains limited. Using individual-based rarefaction curves, we introduce a conceptual framework to understa...
Preprint
Full-text available
Aim: Addressing global environmental challenges requires access to biodiversity data across wide spatial, temporal and biological scales. Recent decades have witnessed an exponential increase of biodiversity information aggregated by biodiversity databases (hereafter ‘databases’). However, heterogeneous coverage, protocols, and standards of databas...
Article
While invasive plant distributions are relatively well known in the eastern United States, temporal changes in species distributions and interactions among species have received little attention. Managers are therefore left to make management decisions without knowing which species pose the greatest threats based on their ability to spread, persist...
Article
Full-text available
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: the species abundance distribution (SAD), the total community abundance, and the within‐species spatial aggregation. Here we extend...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biodiversity is non-randomly distributed in space and understanding how spatial structure of species diversity responds to ecological, biogeographic and anthropogenic drivers is one of the major quests of modern ecology. However, metrics of community differentiation such as Whittaker’s beta-diversity fail to unambiguously capture species turnover w...
Article
Limiting climate change to less than 2°C is the focus of international policy under the climate convention (UNFCCC), and is essential to preventing extinctions, a focus of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The post-2020 biodiversity framework drafted by the CBD proposes conserving 30% of both land and oceans by 2030. However, the combin...
Preprint
Full-text available
Disentangling the drivers of diversity gradients can be challenging. The Measurement of Biodiversity (MoB) framework decomposes changes in species diversity into three components of community structure: the species abundance distribution (SAD), the total community abundance, and the within-species spatial aggregation. Here we extend MoB from catego...
Article
The study of biodiversity started as a single unified field that spanned both ecology and evolution and both macro and micro phenomena. But over the 20th century, major trends drove ecology and evolution apart and pushed an emphasis towards the micro perspective in both disciplines. Macroecology and macroevolution re‐emerged as self‐consciously dis...
Article
Earth‐based observations of the biosphere are spatially biased in ways that can limit our ability to detect macroecological patterns and changes in biodiversity. To resolve this problem, we need to supplement the ad hoc data currently collected with planned biodiversity monitoring, in order to approximate global stratified random sampling of the pl...
Article
Full-text available
A key feature of life’s diversity is that some species are common but many more are rare. Nonetheless, at global scales, we do not know what fraction of biodiversity consists of rare species. Here, we present the largest compilation of global plant diversity to quantify the fraction of Earth’s plant biodiversity that are rare. A large fraction, ~36...
Preprint
Full-text available
A key feature of life’s diversity is that some species are common but many more are rare. Nonetheless, at global scales, we do not know what fraction of biodiversity consists of rare species. Here, we present the largest compilation of global plant species observation data in order to quantify the fraction of Earth’s extant land plant biodiversity...
Article
Full-text available
Scientists disagree about the nature of biodiversity change. While there is evidence for widespread declines from population surveys, assemblage surveys reveal a mix of declines and increases. These conflicting conclusions may be caused by the use of different metrics: assemblage metrics may average out drastic changes in individual populations. Al...
Article
Full-text available
1.Ecosystem processes are driven by both environmental variables and the attributes of component species. The extent to which these effects are independent and/or dependent upon each other has remained unclear. We assess the extent to which climate affects net primary productivity (NPP) both directly and indirectly via its effect on plant size and...
Article
1.The future of temperate forests in the face of global change and anthropogenic stressors remains uncertain. The regeneration stage, which is a critical bottleneck for many organisms, is a key indicator of forest health, future canopy composition, and forest adaptive capacity. 2.In trees, seemingly healthy forests can be at long‐term risk due to i...
Article
Macroecology is a growing and important subdiscipline of ecology, but it is becoming increasingly diffuse, without an organizing principle that is widely agreed upon. I highlight two main current views of macroecology: as the study of large‐scale systems and as the study of emergent systems. I trace the history of both these views through the writi...
Article
Aim Closely related species tend to resemble each other in their morphology and ecology because of shared ancestry. When exploring correlations between species traits, therefore, species cannot be treated as statistically independent. Phylogenetic comparative methods (PCMs) attempt to correct statistically for this shared evolutionary history. Almo...
Article
1.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 v...
Article
Full-text available
Because biodiversity is multidimensional and scale‐dependent, it is challenging to estimate its change. However, it is unclear (1) how much scale‐dependence matters for empirical studies, and (2) if it does matter, how exactly we should quantify biodiversity change. To address the first question, we analysed studies with comparisons among multiple...
Preprint
Full-text available
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 var...
Preprint
Full-text available
Because biodiversity is multidimensional and scale-dependent, it is challenging to estimate its change. However, it is unclear (1) how much scale-dependence matters for empirical studies, and (2) if it does matter, how exactly we should quantify biodiversity change. To address the first question, we analyzed studies with comparisons among multiple...
Article
Full-text available
Despite several recent efforts to map plant traits and to identify their climatic drivers, there are still major gaps. Global trait patterns for major functional groups, in particular, the differences between woody and herbaceous plants, have yet to be identified. Here, we take advantage of big data efforts to compile plant species occurrence and t...
Article
Temperate tree species overwhelmingly responded to past climate change by migrating rather than adapting. However, past climate change did not have the modern human-driven patterns of land use and fragmentation, raising questions of whether tree migration will still be able to keep pace with climate. Previous studies using coarse-grained or randomi...
Article
Sparsely settled forests (SSF) are poorly studied, coupled natural and human systems involving rural communities in forest ecosystems that are neither largely uninhabited wildland nor forests on the edges of urban areas. We developed and applied a multidisciplinary approach to define, map, and examine changes in the spatial extent and structure of...
Article
Full-text available
Many theoretical models of community dynamics predict that species richness (S) and total abundance (N) are regulated in their temporal fluctuations. We present novel evidence for widespread regulation of biodiversity. For 59 plant and animal assemblages from around the globe monitored annually for a decade or more, the majority exhibited regulated...
Article
Full-text available
1. Plant phenotypic diversity is shaped by the interplay of trade-offs and constraints in evolution. Closely integrated groups of traits (i.e. trait dimensions) are used to classify plant phenotypic diversity into plant strategies, but we do not know the degree of interdependence among trait dimensions. To assess how selection has shaped the phenot...
Article
We present new data and analyses revealing fundamental flaws in a critique of two recent meta-analyses of local-scale temporal biodiversity change. First, the conclusion that short-term time series lead to biased estimates of long-term change was based on two errors in the simulations used to support it. Second, the conclusion of negative relations...
Article
Full-text available
This dataset provides growth form classifications for 67,413 vascular plant species from North, Central, and South America. The data used to determine growth form were compiled from five major integrated sources and two original publications: the Botanical Information and Ecology Network (BIEN), the Plant Trait Database (TRY), the SALVIAS database,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Two recent meta-analyses of local-scale biodiversity change over time, by the authors of the present paper, have been subject to a harsh critique. Here we use new data and analyses to respond to the main points of this critique. First, a central argument of the critique was that short-term time series lead to biased estimates of long-term biodivers...
Article
Using data collected for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA), we developed separate multimetric indices (MMIs) for vegetation, soil, algae taxa, and water to assess condition of freshwater wetlands in the northeastern US. This study represents the first attempt at developing multiple biotic...
Article
Full-text available
Trait-based approaches have an increasingly dominant role in community ecology. Although trait-based strategy dimensions such as the leaf economic spectrum (LES) have been identified primarily at global-scales, trait variation at the community scale is often interpreted in this context. Here we argue from several lines of evidence that a research p...
Article
Non-native honeybees historically have been managed for crop pollination, however, recent population declines draw attention to pollination services provided by native bees. We applied the InVEST Crop Pollination model, developed to predict native bee abundance from habitat resources, in Maine's wild blueberry crop landscape. We evaluated model per...
Article
Full-text available
Advances in both informatics and mobile technology are providing exciting new opportunities for generating, disseminating, and engaging with information in the biological sciences at unprecedented spatial scales, particularly in disentangling information on the distributions and natural history of hyperdiverse groups of organisms. 2.We describe an...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how ecological communities are organized and how they change through time is critical to predicting the effects of climate change. Recent work documenting the co-occurrence structure of modern communities found that most significant species pairs co-occur less frequently than would be expected by chance. However, little is known about...
Article
Plant functional group dominance has been linked to climate, topography and anthropogenic factors. Here, we assess existing theory linking functional group dominance patterns to their drivers by quantifying the spatial distribution of plant functional groups at a 100-km grid scale. We use a standardized plant species occurrence dataset of unprecede...
Article
There is a growing demand for fine-grained (e.g. 1 km) daily historical meteorological data. Traditional approaches interpolate between observations collected at existing meteorological stations; however, the demand for ever increasing fine resolutions has begun to outstrip the available ground-station data, especially for daily timescales. One pro...
Presentation
Full-text available
Determining the structure and composition of tropical communities is challenging because some species are rare or hard to detect. Within Neotropical bats, aerial insectivores have been systematically undersampled because they avoid mist nets, the traditional sampling tool. Advances in bioacoustic monitoring techniques have allowed the study aerial...
Article
Full-text available
Positive and negative associations between species are a key outcome of community assembly from regional species pools. These associations are difficult to detect and can be caused by a range of processes such as species interactions, local environmental constraints and dispersal. We integrate new ideas around species distribution modeling, covaria...
Article
Full-text available
Using a socioecological systems perspective, we advance a conceptual approach for characterizing tra- jectories of change in rural forest-based communities. We call attention to “communities in the middle,” communities positioned within forested regions representing neither unpopulated wilderness nor heavily urbanized or densely populated places on...
Article
Full-text available
The role human activities play in reshaping biodiversity is increasingly apparent in terrestrial ecosystems. However, the responses of entire marine assemblages are not well-understood, in part, because few monitoring programs incorporate both spatial and temporal replication. Here, we analyse an exceptionally comprehensive 29-year time series of N...
Article
Full-text available
Forecasts of ecological dynamics in changing environments are increasingly important, and are available for a plethora of variables, such as species abundance and distribution, community structure and ecosystem processes. There is, however, a general absence of knowledge about how far into the future, or other dimensions (space, temperature, phylog...
Article
A meta-analysis at a local scale reveals that land-use change has caused species richness to decline by approximately 8.1% on average globally, mainly as a result of large increases in croplands and pastures. See Article p.45
Article
Full-text available
As the magnitude, complexity, and urgency of many sustainability problems increase, there is a growing need for universities to contribute more effectively to problem solving. Drawing upon prior research on social-ecological systems, knowledge-action connections, and organizational innovation, we developed an integrated conceptual framework for str...
Preprint
Full-text available
Forecasts of ecological dynamics in changing environments are increasingly important, and are available for a plethora of variables, such as species abundance and distribution, community structure, and ecosystem processes. There is, however, a general absence of knowledge about how far into the future, or other dimensions (space, temperature, phylo...
Article
Humans are transforming the biosphere in unprecedented ways, raising the important question of how these impacts are changing biodiversity. Here we argue that our understanding of biodiversity trends in the Anthropocene, and our ability to protect the natural world, is impeded by a failure to consider different types of biodiversity measured at dif...
Article
Full-text available
Theories of biodiversity rest on several macroecological patterns describing the relationship between species abundance and diversity. A central problem is that all theories make similar predictions for these patterns despite disparate assumptions. A troubling implication is that these patterns may not reflect anything unique about organizational p...
Article
One of the key hypothesized drivers of gradients in species richness is environmental filtering, where environmental stress limits which species from a larger species pool gain membership in a local community owing to their traits. Whereas most studies focus on small-scale variation in functional traits along environmental gradient, the effect of l...
Article
Full-text available
Significance We present a conceptual framework for testing theories for the latitudinal gradient of species richness in terms of variation in functional diversity at the alpha, beta, and gamma scales. We compared ecological community theory with large-scale observational data of tree species richness and functional diversity. We found that the patt...