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Quantifying temporal change in biodiversity: challenges and opportunities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Maria Dornelas, Anne Magurran, Stephen Terrence Buckland, Anne Chao, Robin L Chazdon, Robert K Colwell, Tom Curtis, Kevin J Gaston, Nicolas J Gotelli, Matthew A Kosnik, Brian McGill, Jenny L McCune, Hélène Morlon, Peter J Mumby, Lise Øvreås, Angelika Studeny, Mark Vellend

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Growing concern about biodiversity loss underscores the need to quantify and understand temporal change. Here, we review the opportunities presented by biodiversity time series, and address three related issues: (i) recognizing the characteristics of temporal data; (ii) selecting appropriate statistical procedures for analysing temporal data; and (iii) inferring and forecasting biodiversity change. With regard to the first issue, we draw attention to defining characteristics of biodiversity time series—lack of physical boundaries, uni-dimensionality, autocorrelation and directionality—that inform the choice of analytic methods. Second, we explore methods of quantifying change in biodiversity at different timescales, noting that autocorrelation can be viewed as a feature that sheds light on the underlying structure of temporal change. Finally, we address the transition from inferring to forecasting biodiversity change, highlighting potential pitfalls associated with phase-shifts and novel conditions.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number20121931
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume280
Issue number1750
Early online date24 Oct 2012
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2013

    Research areas

  • Biological diversity, Time, Legacy data, Traits, Global change, Conservation

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