Putting Beta-Diversity on the Map: Broad-Scale Congruence and Coincidence in the Extremes

Imperial College London, United Kingdom
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 9.34). 11/2007; 5(10):e272. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050272
Source: PubMed


Beta-diversity, the change in species composition between places, is a critical but poorly understood component of biological diversity. Patterns of beta-diversity provide information central to many ecological and evolutionary questions, as well as to conservation planning. Yet beta-diversity is rarely studied across large extents, and the degree of similarity of patterns among taxa at such scales remains untested. To our knowledge, this is the first broad-scale analysis of cross-taxon congruence in beta-diversity, and introduces a new method to map beta-diversity continuously across regions. Congruence between amphibian, bird, and mammal beta-diversity in the Western Hemisphere varies with both geographic location and spatial extent. We demonstrate that areas of high beta-diversity for the three taxa largely coincide, but areas of low beta-diversity exhibit little overlap. These findings suggest that similar processes lead to high levels of differentiation in amphibian, bird, and mammal assemblages, while the ecological and biogeographic factors influencing homogeneity in vertebrate assemblages vary. Knowledge of beta-diversity congruence can help formulate hypotheses about the mechanisms governing regional diversity patterns and should inform conservation, especially as threat from global climate change increases.

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Available from: Robert Mcdonald, May 27, 2014
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    • "Therefore, this procedure has many applications in ecology, biogeography and conservation biology. Examples include the capacity to monitor biodiversity patterns across space and over time in response to environmental changes occurring at different spatial scales (e.g., high spatial resolution changes due to land use, low spatial resolution changes due to shifting climate patterns), assessing the spatial congruence among communities or guilds (McKnight et al., 2007) over broad geographic regions, and helping with the identification of areas requiring further conservation actions (e.g., extensions to protected areas, or establishment of new protected areas), among many other applications. All these applications will support a more comprehensive and inclusive conservation of biodiversity (Ferrier, 2002;Xu et al., 2006). "
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