Get access

Multivariate dispersion as a measure of beta diversity

Authors

  • Marti J. Anderson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
      * E-mail: mja@stat.auckland.ac.nz
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kari E. Ellingsen,

    1. Marine Biodiversity, Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Present address: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Polarmiljøsenteret, 9296 Tromsø, Norway.

  • Brian H. McArdle

    1. Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
    Search for more papers by this author

* E-mail: mja@stat.auckland.ac.nz

Abstract

Beta diversity can be defined as the variability in species composition among sampling units for a given area. We propose that it can be measured as the average dissimilarity from individual observation units to their group centroid in multivariate space, using an appropriate dissimilarity measure. Differences in beta diversity among different areas or groups of samples can be tested using this approach. The choice of transformation and dissimilarity measure has important consequences for interpreting results. For kelp holdfast assemblages from New Zealand, variation in species composition was greater in smaller holdfasts, while variation in relative abundances was greater in larger holdasts. Variation in community structure of Norwegian continental shelf macrobenthic fauna increased with increases in environmental heterogeneity, regardless of the measure used. We propose a new dissimilarity measure which allows the relative weight placed on changes in composition vs. abundance to be specified explicitly.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary