Extending species-area relationships (SAR) to diversity-area relationships (DAR)

11/16/2017
by   Zhanshan Ma, et al.
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I extend the traditional SAR, which has achieved status of ecological law and plays a critical role in global biodiversity assessment, to the general (alpha- or beta-diversity in Hill numbers) diversity area relationship (DAR). The extension was motivated to remedy the limitation of traditional SAR that only address one aspect of biodiversity scaling, i.e., species richness scaling over space. The extension was made possible by the fact that all Hill numbers are in units of species (referred to as the effective number of species or as species equivalents), and I postulated that Hill numbers should follow the same or similar pattern of SAR. I selected three DAR models, the traditional power law (PL), PLEC (PL with exponential cutoff) and PLIEC (PL with inverse exponential cutoff). I defined three new concepts and derived their quantifications: (i)DAR profile: z-q series where z is the PL scaling parameter at different diversity order (q); (ii)PDO (pair-wise diversity overlap) profile: g-q series where g is the PDO corresponding to q; (iii) MAD (maximal accrual diversity) profile: Dmax-q series where Dmax is the MAD corresponding to q. Furthermore, the PDO-g is quantified based on the self-similarity property of the PL model, and Dmax can be estimated from the PLEC parameters. The three profiles constitute a novel DAR approach to biodiversity scaling. I verified the postulation with the American gut microbiome project (AGP) dataset of 1473 healthy North American individuals (the largest human dataset from a single project to date). The PL model was preferred due to its simplicity and established ecological properties such as self-similarity (necessary for establishing PDO profile), and PLEC has an advantage in establishing the MAD profile. All three profiles for the AGP dataset were successfully quantified and compared with existing SAR parameters in the literature whenever possible.

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