Estimates of local biodiversity change over time stand up to scrutiny
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We present new data and analyses revealing fundamental flaws in a critique of two recent meta-analyses of local-scale temporal biodiversity change. First, the conclusion that short-term time series lead to biased estimates of long-term change was based on two errors in the simulations used to support it. Second, the conclusion of negative relationships between temporal biodiversity change and study duration was entirely dependent on unrealistic model assumptions, the use of a subset of data, and inclusion of one outlier data point in one study. Third, the finding of a decline in local biodiversity, after eliminating post-disturbance studies, is not robust to alternative analyses on the original dataset, and is absent in a larger, updated dataset. Finally, the undebatable point – noted in both original papers – that studies in the ecological literature are geographically biased, was used to cast doubt on the conclusion that, outside of areas converted to croplands or asphalt, the distribution of biodiversity trends is centered approximately on zero. Future studies may modify conclusions, but at present, alternative conclusions based on the geographic-bias argument rely on speculation. In sum, the critique raises points of uncertainty typical of all ecological studies, but does not provide an evidence-based alternative interpretation.
Vellend , M , Dornelas , M , Baeten , L , Beauséjour , R , Brown , C D , De Frenne , P , Elmendorf , S C , Gotelli , N J , Moyes , F , Myers-Smith , I H , Magurran , A E , McGill , B J , Shimadzu , H & Sievers , C 2017 , ' Estimates of local biodiversity change over time stand up to scrutiny ' Ecology , vol. 98 , no. 2 , pp. 583-590 . DOI: 10.1002/ecy.1660
© 2016, Ecological Society of America. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at onlinelibrary.wiley.com / https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.1660
- Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences Research
- Biology Research
- Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD) Research
- Centre for Research into Ecological & Environmental Modelling (CREEM) Research
- Scottish Oceans Institute Research
- St Andrews Sustainability Institute Research
- University of St Andrews Research
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