• Community ecology;
  • phylogenetic diversity;
  • scaling;
  • species-time-area relationship


The species-area relationship (SAR) has proven to be one of the few strong generalities in ecology. The temporal analog of the SAR, the species-time relationship (STR), has received considerably less attention. Recent work primarily from the temperate zone has aimed to merge the SAR and the STR into a synthetic and unified species-time-area relationship (STAR) as originally envisioned by Preston (1960). Here we test this framework using two tropical tree communities and extend it by deriving a phylogenetic-time-area relationship (PTAR). The work finds some support for Preston's prediction that diversity-time relationships, both species and phylogenetic, are sensitive to the spatial scale of the sampling. Contrary to the Preston's predictions we find a decoupling of diversity-area and diversity-time relationships in both forests as the time period used to quantify the diversity-area relationship changes. In particular, diversity-area and diversity-time relationships are positively correlated using the initial census to quantify the diversity-area relationship, but weakly or even negatively correlated when using the most recent census. Thus, diversity-area relationships could forecast the temporal accumulation of biodiversity of the forests, but they failed to “back-cast” the temporal accumulation of biodiversity suggesting a decoupling of space and time.