Spatial ecology in a changing world

New article: Patterns of beta diversity in Europe.

ECOLAND has taken part in a European, multi-taxa study to test the prediction that beta diversity (species turnover) and the decay of community similarity with distance depend on spatial resolution (grain).

This study is a contribution to the FP7 project SCALES and also addressed whether patterns of beta diversity are related to variability in climate, land cover or geographic distance and how the independent effects of these variables depend on the spatial grain of the data.

We used data on European birds, plants, butterflies, amphibians and
reptiles, and data on British plants, Catalonian birds and Finnish butterflies and fitted two or three nested grids of varying resolutions to each of these datasets.

Beta diversity between grid cells at any given distance decreased with increasing grain. Geographic distance was always the most important predictor of beta diversity for all pairwise comparisons at the extent of Europe. Climate and land cover had weaker but distinct and grain-dependent effects. Climate was more important at relatively coarse grains, whereas land-cover effects were stronger at finer grains. In the country-wide analyses, climate and land cover were more important than geographic distance. Climatic and land-cover models performed poorly and showed no systematic grain dependence for beta diversity between adjacent grid cells.

We found that relationships between geographic distance and beta diversity, as well as the environmental correlates of beta diversity, are systematically grain dependent. The strong independent effect of distance indicates that, contrary to the current belief, a substantial fraction of species are missing from areas with a suitable environment. Moreover, the effects of geographic distance (at continental extents) and land cover (at fine grains) indicate that any species distribution modelling should take both environment and dispersal limitation into account.


ECOLAND ha participat en un estudi multi taxa  a nivell Europeu per avaluar la predicció que la diversitat beta (recanvi d’espècies a nivell espacial) i la disminució en la similaritat en la composició d’espècies depenen en de la resuolució a la que es mesuren aquests paràmetres. Aquest ha estat un estudi inclós en el projecte FP7 Europeu SCALES.

Keil, P., Schweiger, O., Kühn, I., Kunin, W. E., Kuussaari, M., Settele, J., Henle, K., Brotons, L., Pe’er, G., Lengyel, S., Moustakas, A., Steinicke, H. & Storch, D. (2012) Patterns of beta diversity in Europe: the role of climate, land cover and distance across scales. Journal of Biogeography, in press.

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