Present address: Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA.
A general framework for the distance–decay of similarity in ecological communities
Article first published online: 20 MAY 2008
© 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS
Volume 11, Issue 9, pages 904–917, September 2008
How to Cite
Morlon, H., Chuyong, G., Condit, R., Hubbell, S., Kenfack, D., Thomas, D., Valencia, R. and Green, J. L. (2008), A general framework for the distance–decay of similarity in ecological communities. Ecology Letters, 11: 904–917. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01202.x
Reuse of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.
- Issue published online: 6 AUG 2008
- Article first published online: 20 MAY 2008
- Editor, Jerome Chave Manuscript received 21 December 2007 First decision made 23 January 2008 Manuscript accepted 4 April 2008
- distance–decay relationship;
- Poisson Cluster Process;
- sampling biodiversity;
- Sørensen index;
- spatial aggregation;
- spatial turnover;
- species-abundance distribution;
- species–area relationship;
- tropical forests
Species spatial turnover, or β-diversity, induces a decay of community similarity with geographic distance known as the distance–decay relationship. Although this relationship is central to biodiversity and biogeography, its theoretical underpinnings remain poorly understood. Here, we develop a general framework to describe how the distance–decay relationship is influenced by population aggregation and the landscape-scale species-abundance distribution. We utilize this general framework and data from three tropical forests to show that rare species have a weak influence on distance–decay curves, and that overall similarity and rates of decay are primarily influenced by species abundances and population aggregation respectively. We illustrate the utility of the framework by deriving an exact analytical expression of the distance–decay relationship when population aggregation is characterized by the Poisson Cluster Process. Our study provides a foundation for understanding the distance–decay relationship, and for predicting and testing patterns of beta-diversity under competing theories in ecology.