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Keywords:

  • Diatoms;
  • environmental indicators;
  • niche breadth;
  • null models;
  • specialization

Abstract

Telford, Vandvik and Birks (2006) (henceforth TVB) refute our conclusion (Pither & Aarssen 2005) that only a minority of fossil diatom taxa within a diverse regional assemblage are pH specialists. They argue that the null model we used exhibited high Type II error rates for both geographically rare taxa (i.e. few lakes occupied) and for acid-optima taxa, and assert that many more taxa would have been designated specialist had we adequate statistical power, and had more acidic lakes been sampled. However, TVB base their conclusions upon the results of additional analyses, which assume a priori that all taxa are pH specialists. Experimental and observational evidence do not support this assumption. As such, we contend that TVBs criticisms are unjustified.