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Measuring Beta Diversity with Presence-Absence Data

M. V. Wilson and A. Shmida
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 72, No. 3 (Nov., 1984), pp. 1055-1064
DOI: 10.2307/2259551
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2259551
Page Count: 10
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Measuring Beta Diversity with Presence-Absence Data
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Abstract

(1) Six measures of beta diversity (five from the literature, one proposed here) were compared and evaluated. Application was limited to measures suited for species presence-absence data along environmental gradients. (2) Four ecological criteria of `good' performance of beta diversity measures were developed: (i) conformity with the notion of community turnover ensures that the magnitude of a measure is meaningful; (ii) additivity is the property that the sum of beta diversities between contiguous segments equals the beta diversity of the entire gradient; (iii) independence from alpha diversity ensures useful application of a measure to systems with different alpha diversities; (iv) independence from excessive sample size obviates any spurious effects of oversampling. (3) Two measures of beta diversity (one proposed by Whittaker (1960) and one proposed in the present paper) came closest to fulfilling all four criteria and should be of most use in ecological applications. (4) Field data from Mt Hermon in Israel were used to compare the usefulness of the six measures. (5) Current problems and issues, including the relationship between species-area curves and beta diversity, and future applications in measuring beta diversity are discussed.

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