β-diversity scaling patterns are consistent across metrics and taxa

5 December 2018

Antão, Laura; McGill, Brian; Magurran, Anne; Soares, Amadeu; Dornelas, Maria

β-diversity (variation in community composition) is a fundamental component of biodiversity, with implications for macroecology, community ecology and conservation. However, its scaling properties are poorly understood. Here, we systematically assessed the spatial scaling of β-diversity using 12 empirical large-scale datasets including different taxonomic groups, by examining two conceptual types of β-diversity and explicitly considering the turnover and nestedness components. We found highly consistent patterns across datasets. Multiple-site β-diversity (i.e. variation across multiple sites) scaling curves were remarkably consistent, with β-diversity decreasing with sampled area according to a power law. For pairwise dissimilarities, the rates of increase of dissimilarity with geographic distance remained largely constant across scales, while grain size (or scale level) had a stronger effect on overall dissimilarity. In both analyses, turnover was the main contributor to β-diversity, following total β-diversity patterns closely, while the nestedness component was largely insensitive to scale changes. Our results highlight the importance of integrating both inter- and intraspecific aggregation patterns across spatial scales, which underpin substantial differences in community structure from local to regional scales.

Doi
10.1111/ecog.04117