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Taxonomic distinctness and species richness as measures of functional structure in bird assemblages

von Euler, F and Svensson, Sören LU (2001) In Oecologia 129(2). p.304-311
Abstract
Most traditional "biodiversity" indices have an uncertain ecological interpretation, unfavourable sampling properties, and excessive data requirements. A new index of taxonomic distinctness (the average evolutionary distance between species in an assemblage) has many advantages over traditional measures, but its ecological interpretation remains unclear. We used published behavioural species data in conjunction with bird atlas data to quantify simple functional metrics (the fraction of species engaged in non-competitive interactions, and the average between-species disparity in habitat preferences) for breeding-bird assemblages in Europe and North America. We then analysed correlations of functional metrics with taxonomic distinctness and... (More)
Most traditional "biodiversity" indices have an uncertain ecological interpretation, unfavourable sampling properties, and excessive data requirements. A new index of taxonomic distinctness (the average evolutionary distance between species in an assemblage) has many advantages over traditional measures, but its ecological interpretation remains unclear. We used published behavioural species data in conjunction with bird atlas data to quantify simple functional metrics (the fraction of species engaged in non-competitive interactions, and the average between-species disparity in habitat preferences) for breeding-bird assemblages in Europe and North America. We then analysed correlations of functional metrics with taxonomic distinctness and species richness, respectively. All functional metrics had weak, positive correlations with species richness. In contrast, correlations between functional metrics and taxonomic distinctness ranged from slightly negative to strongly positive, depending on the relative habitat heterogeneity, and on the resource involved in the between-species interaction. Strong positive correlations between taxonomic distinctness and the fraction of interactive species occurred for resources with few producer species per consumer species, and we suggest that taxonomic distinctness is consistently correlated with conservation worth. With its favourable sampling properties and data requirements, this taxonomic distinctness measure is a promising tool for biodiversity research and for environmental monitoring and management. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Oecologia
volume
129
issue
2
pages
304 - 311
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:0034773336
ISSN
1432-1939
DOI
10.1007/s004420100732
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8816b441-0dc0-4e9c-ab9a-a22e922849c4 (old id 145697)
date added to LUP
2007-06-26 13:00:47
date last changed
2018-01-07 06:19:46
@article{8816b441-0dc0-4e9c-ab9a-a22e922849c4,
  abstract     = {Most traditional "biodiversity" indices have an uncertain ecological interpretation, unfavourable sampling properties, and excessive data requirements. A new index of taxonomic distinctness (the average evolutionary distance between species in an assemblage) has many advantages over traditional measures, but its ecological interpretation remains unclear. We used published behavioural species data in conjunction with bird atlas data to quantify simple functional metrics (the fraction of species engaged in non-competitive interactions, and the average between-species disparity in habitat preferences) for breeding-bird assemblages in Europe and North America. We then analysed correlations of functional metrics with taxonomic distinctness and species richness, respectively. All functional metrics had weak, positive correlations with species richness. In contrast, correlations between functional metrics and taxonomic distinctness ranged from slightly negative to strongly positive, depending on the relative habitat heterogeneity, and on the resource involved in the between-species interaction. Strong positive correlations between taxonomic distinctness and the fraction of interactive species occurred for resources with few producer species per consumer species, and we suggest that taxonomic distinctness is consistently correlated with conservation worth. With its favourable sampling properties and data requirements, this taxonomic distinctness measure is a promising tool for biodiversity research and for environmental monitoring and management.},
  author       = {von Euler, F and Svensson, Sören},
  issn         = {1432-1939},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {304--311},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Oecologia},
  title        = {Taxonomic distinctness and species richness as measures of functional structure in bird assemblages},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s004420100732},
  volume       = {129},
  year         = {2001},
}