The anatomy of the interspecific abundance–range size relationship for the British avifauna: II. Temporal dynamics



In a companion paper, we started an examination of the anatomy of the interspecific relationship between local abundance and geographical range size in the British avifauna by analysing its spatial dynamics. Here, we use the same data to extend this study to a consideration of the temporal dynamics of the relationship. Most species of British breeding bird show a positive intraspecific abundance–range size relationship through time: i.e. in years when a species is locally more abundant it also occupies a higher proportion of census sites. However, the majority of such relationships are not statistically significant, and other relationships that are statistically significant are negative. Therefore, intraspecific abundance–range size relationships do not simply mirror the relationship across species. Where they do arise, positive relationships are more likely to be associated with positive intraspecific relationships between range size and maximum rather than minimum abundance. The interspecific abundance–range size relationship is remarkably consistent across years, and is always significantly positive. The relationships for woodland and farmland census sites show correlated variation, so that in years when the linear regression slope and coefficient of determination are high across species on farmland plots, they also tend to be high across species on woodland plots. Common species tend to be common on both farmland and woodland plots, and tend to be common in all years. Likewise, rare species tend to be rare in all habitats and years. This concordance means that the positive interspecific abundance–range size relationship can be viewed as occurring largely independently of intraspecific relationships. It follows from the above that developing an understanding of intraspecific abundance–range size relationships may be of only limited value in ascertaining the determinants of positive interspecific abundance–range size relationships. We conclude that for interspecific relationships, it will be important to know why some species are consistently common and others rare, whereas for intraspecific relationships it will be important to understand the dynamic links between local abundances across sites.