Dissimilarity measurements and the size structure of ecological communities
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Methods in Ecology and Evolution © 2013 British Ecological Society
Methods in Ecology and Evolution
Volume 4, Issue 12, pages 1167–1177, December 2013
How to Cite
De Cáceres, M., Legendre, P., He, F. (2013), Dissimilarity measurements and the size structure of ecological communities. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 4: 1167–1177. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12116
- Issue published online: 9 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 18 NOV 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 18 SEP 2013 10:19AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 30 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Received: 11 MAR 2013
- NSERC. Grant Number: 7738
- BIONOVEL. Grant Number: CGL2011-29539/BOS
- MONTES. Grant Number: CSD2008-00040
- Spanish Ministry of Education and Science
- beta diversity;
- community ecology;
- cumulative abundance profile;
- dissimilarity coefficients;
- forest dynamics;
- size structure
- Measurements of community resemblance in ecology are often based on species composition, and the starting point for calculations is usually a site-by-species data table. However, resemblance measurements may not be sufficiently accurate when communities are described using species composition only. Characteristics such as the size of their constituting organisms are also important to understand community organization.
- Here, we provide a framework that generalizes conventional resemblance measurements by incorporating the size structure of the compared communities. We first introduce the concept of cumulative abundance profile, which generalizes traditional species abundance values, and describe how to calculate it. We then explain our approach to compare cumulative abundance profiles in community resemblance measurements and use a small simulation study to determine which resemblance coefficients appropriately deal with compositional and structural differences. After that, we present an illustrative example where we study the structural and compositional variation between and within six Douglas-fir forest plots in British Columbia, Canada.
- According to our investigations, the generalizations we suggest for the percentage difference (alias Bray–Curtis dissimilarity) and the Ružička coefficients are appropriate to measure community resemblance in terms of size structure, species composition or both.
- Our framework allows community resemblance to be measured in terms of either size structure or species composition, or both. A broad range of applications is expected. In the case of terrestrial plant communities, potential applications include analyses of community dynamics and classification of vegetation.