Occupancy-abundance relationships and sampling scales

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Abstract

The area of occupancy of a species and its abundance are dependent on the spatial scale at which they are measured. However, it is less obvious how the scale of sampling affects their correlation. This study investigated and modeled the effects of sampling unit size and a real extent on the interspecific occupancy-abundance relationships for a tropical tree species assemblage at a local scale and a temperate bird species assemblage at a regional scale. The results showed that both sampling unit size and study extent had profound quantitative effects on the occupancy-abundance relationship, although it remained positive. Several properties of the occupancy-abundance relationship can result from the effects of scale: 1) the linearity of the relationship decreases with the increase of sampling unit size; 2) for a given abundance, the area of occupancy increases with sampling unit size; and 3) variation in the area of occupancy increases with the increase of both sampling unit size and extent, and if the extent is large enough may be sufficient that no occupancy-abundance relationship is observed. Although the occupancy-abundance relationship can be satisfactorily modeled, the parameters depend on the scale used. This suggests that a model derived from one scale cannot be applied to another. In other words, to estimate the rarity or commonness of species using such a model, the estimation must be strictly done using the same sampling scale for all the species.

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