Island biogeography, the effects of taxonomic effort and the importance of island niche diversity to single-island endemic species

Gray, Alan; Cavers, Stephen. 2014 Island biogeography, the effects of taxonomic effort and the importance of island niche diversity to single-island endemic species. Systematic Biology, 63 (1). 55-65. 10.1093/sysbio/syt060

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Island biogeography theory is fundamentally reliant on measuring the number of species per island and hence has taxonomy at its foundation. Yet as a metric used in tests of the theory, island species richness (S) has varied with time according to the level of taxonomic effort (a function of the rate of finding and describing species). Studies using a derivative of S, single-island endemic species richness (SIE S), may be prone to change in taxonomic effort. Decreases or increases in species numbers resulting from taxonomic revision or increased sampling are likely to have a large effect on values of SIE S, as they tend to be smaller than total S for the same island. Using simple biogeography models, we analysed estimates of SIE S in plants, land snails, beetles, and fungi from comprehensive data sets for eight island groups, produced species accumulation curves and applied Bayesian regression over five time periods. Explanatory power differed across taxa, but area and island age were not always the best explanatory variables, and niche diversity appeared to be important. Changing levels of SIE S over time had different effects on models with different taxa and between island archipelagos. The results indicated that the taxonomic effort that determines SIE S is important. However, as this cannot often be quantified, we suggest Bayesian approaches should be more useful than frequentist methods in evaluating SIE S in island biogeography theory. Fundamentally, the article highlights the importance of taxonomy to theoretical biogeography.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1093/sysbio/syt060
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 1063-5157
Additional Keywords: evolution, modeling, species richness
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 03 Oct 2013 09:17 +0 (UTC)

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