The terminology and use of species–area relationships: a response to Dengler (2009)



Dengler (Journal of Biogeography, 2009, 36, 728–744) addresses issues regarding species–area relationships (SARs), but fails to settles those issues. He states that only certain types of sampling schemes should be used to construct SARs, but is not consistent in the criteria that he uses to include some sampling schemes but not others. He argues that a sampling scheme of contiguous plots will be more accurate in extrapolating beyond the sampled area, but logic tells us that a dispersed sampling scheme is likely to be more accurate. Finally, he concludes that the ‘true’ SAR is a power function, but this conclusion is inconsistent with his results and with the results of others. Rather than defining a narrow framework for SARs, we need to recognize that the relationship between area and species richness is scale- and system-dependent. Different sampling schemes serve different purposes, and a variety of functional relationships are likely to hold. Further theoretical and empirical work is needed to resolve these issues fully.