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Quantifying temporal change in biodiversity: challenges and opportunities

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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

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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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