Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Assessing the suitability of diversity metrics to detect biodiversity change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Luca Santini, Jonathan Belmaker, Mark J. Costello, Henrique M. Pereira, Axel G. Rossberg, Aafke M. Schipper, Silvia Ceaușu, Maria Dornelas, Jelle P. Hilbers, Joaquin Hortal, Mark A.J. Huijbregts, Laetitia M. Navarro, Katja H. Schiffers, Piero Visconti, Carlo Rondinini

School/Research organisations

Abstract

A large number of diversity metrics are available to study and monitor biodiversity, and their responses to biodiversity changes are not necessarily coherent with each other. The choice of biodiversity metrics may thus strongly affect our interpretation of biodiversity change and, hence, prioritization of resources for conservation. Therefore it is crucial to understand which metrics respond to certain changes, are the most sensitive to change, show consistent responses across different communities, detect early signals of species decline, and are insensitive to demographic stochasticity. Here we generated synthetic communities and simulated changes in their composition according to 9 scenarios of biodiversity change to investigate the behaviour of 12 biodiversity metrics. Metrics showed diverse abilities to detect changes under different scenarios. Sørensen similarity index, arithmetic and geometric mean abundance, and species and functional richness were the most sensitive to community changes. Sørensen similarity index, species richness and geometric abundance showed consistent responses across all simulated communities and scenarios. Sørensen similarity index and geometric mean abundance were able to detect early signals of species decline. Geometric mean abundance, and functional evenness under certain scenarios, had the greatest ability to distinguish directional trends from stochastic changes, but Sørensen similarity index and geometric mean abundance were the only indices to show consistent signals under all replicates and scenarios. Classic abundance-weighted heterogeneity indices (e.g. Shannon index) were insensitive to certain changes or showed misleading responses, and are therefore unsuitable for comparison of biological communities. We therefore suggest that separate metrics of species composition, richness, and abundance should be reported instead of (or in addition to) composite metrics like the Shannon index.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume213
Issue numberPart B
Early online date29 Sep 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

    Research areas

  • Abundance, Biodiversity indicators, Biodiversity monitoring, Similarity index, Functional diversity, Phylogenetic diversity, Shannon index, Simpson index, Synthetic community

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Morphological traits can track coral reef responses to the Anthropocene

    Zawada, K. J. A., Madin, J. S., Baird, A. H., Bridge, T. C. L. & Dornelas, M., 7 Jun 2019, In : Functional Ecology. 33, 6, p. 962-975

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. A balance of winners and losers in the Anthropocene

    Dornelas, M., Gotelli, N. J., Shimadzu, H., Moyes, F., Magurran, A. E. & McGill, B. J., May 2019, In : Ecology Letters. 22, 5, p. 847-854 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. β-diversity scaling patterns are consistent across metrics and taxa

    Antão, L. H., McGill, B., Magurran, A. E., Soares, A. & Dornelas, M., May 2019, In : Ecography. 42, 5, p. 1012-1023

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Species richness change across spatial scales

    Chase, J. M., McGill, B. J., Thompson, P. L., Antão, L. H., Bates, A. E., Blowes, S. A., Dornelas, M., Gonzalez, A., Magurran, A. E., Supp, S. R., Winter, M., Bjorkman, A. D., Bruelheide, H., Byrnes, J. E. K., Cabral, J. S., Elahi, R., Gomez, C., Guzman, H. M., Isbell, F., Myers-Smith, I. H. & 5 othersJones, H. P., Hines, J., Vellend, M., Waldock, C. & O'Connor, M., 20 Apr 2019, In : Oikos. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Benthic structure drives butterflyfish species composition and trophic group abundance

    Borges Da Costa Guint Barbosa, M. M., Coupland, N., Douglas, C., Harrisson, E., James, K., Jones, M., McIntyre, C., Philpott, D., Russel, G., Zawada, K., Azeredo de Dornelas, M. A. & Peddie, C., 2019, In : PeerJ PrePrints.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Implications of farmland expansion for species abundance, richness and mean body mass in African raptor communities

    Shaw, P., Kibuule, M., Nalwanga, D., Kaphu, G., Opige, M. & Pomeroy, D., 2 May 2019, In : Biological Conservation. 235, p. 164-177 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Uses, cultural significance, and management of peatlands in the Peruvian Amazon: implications for conservation

    Schulz, C., Martín Brañas, M., Núñez Pérez, C., Del Aguila Villacorta, M., Laurie, N., Lawson, I. T. & Roucoux, K. H., 20 May 2019, In : Biological Conservation. 235, p. 189-198 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Basin-scale distribution of harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea provides basis for effective conservation actions

    Carlén, I., Thomas, L., Carlström, J., Amundin, M., Teilmann, J., Tregenza, N., Tougaard, J., Koblitz, J. C., Sveegaard, S., Wennerberg, D., Loisa, O., Dähne, M., Brundiers, K., Kosecka, M., Kyhn, L. A., Ljungqvist, C. T., Pawliczka, I., Koza, R., Arciszewski, B., Galatius, A. & 9 othersJabbusch, M., Laaksonlaita, J., Niemi, J., Lyytinen, S., Gallus, A., Benke, H., Blankett, P., Skóra, K. E. & Acevedo-Gutiérrez, A., Oct 2018, In : Biological Conservation. 226, p. 42-53 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Marine protected areas show low overlap with projected distributions of seabird populations in Britain and Ireland

    Critchley, E. J., Grecian, W. J., Kane, A., Jessopp, M. J. & Quinn, J. L., Aug 2018, In : Biological Conservation. 224, p. 309-317 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 246389788