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Keywords:

  • additive diversity partitioning;
  • alpha and beta diversity components;
  • dissimilarity;
  • (generalized) linear model;
  • ordination;
  • spatial scale;
  • species occurrence table;
  • variograms

Summary

  • 1
    An important goal of community ecology is the assessment of factors that are likely to influence the spatio-temporal distribution of species assemblages and diversity. Surprisingly, most statistical methods devoted to this have remained poorly interconnected, as well as poorly connected with the popular metrics of diversity estimation. In the present paper we show that important questions related to determinants of species diversity can be specified through a simple multivariate linear model and explored, in common diversity metrics, using standard methods and routines of variance/covariance decomposition.
  • 2
    Thanks to an unusual form of presentation of taxonomic data into a table of species occurrences, which considers the individuals as data units, Shannon and Simpson indices as well as species richness can all be expressed as a (weighted) sum of squares. Subsequent apportionments into explained and residual sum of squares provide direct estimates of the beta- and alpha-diversity components with respect to either categorical habitat types or continuous gradient variables. Appropriate statistics and non-parametric tests are available to assess the significance of these components.
  • 3
    Explicit analytical relationships exist between the linear approximation of the table of species occurrences by sampling sites, and the more classical table of species abundances by sites. Therefore, direct links with methods of ordination in reduced space, such as correspondence analysis and canonical correspondence analysis, provide opportunities for partitions that preserve consistency with usual diversity indices. The sum of squares of the approximated occurrence table provides measures of intersites beta-diversity, from which measures of dissimilarity with explicit references to diversity indices can be derived. Such measures are amenable to distance-based apportionments through multivariate variograms and multiscale ordination.
  • 4
    What are the relative effects of the biological, environmental and anthropogenic factors and of their potential interactions on species diversity? Are these effects stable across scales, from landscape to region, between regions and across ecosystems? The methodological integration proposed in our analytical framework enables one to address these questions using standard statistical tools, and opens new prospects for quantitative biodiversity studies. This also paves the way towards refined models for predicting species diversity at unsampled locations.