Using species abundance distribution models and diversity indices for biogeographical analyses

Fattorini, S., Cardoso, P., Rigal, F. & Borges, P.A.V. (2016) Using species abundance distribution models and diversity indices for biogeographical analyses.

Acta Oecologica-International Journal of Ecology, 70, 21-28. DOI:10.1016/j.actao.2015.11.003 (IF2016 1,652; Q3 Ecology)
  • Team:
  • Category:
  • Jan, 2016


We examine whether Species Abundance Distribution models (SADs) and diversity indices can describe how species colonization status influences species community assembly on oceanic islands. Our hypothesis is that, because of the lack of source-sink dynamics at the archipelago scale, Single Island Endemics (SIEs), i.e. endemic species restricted to only one island, should be represented by few rare species and consequently have abundance patterns that differ from those of more widespread species. To test our hypothesis, we used arthropod data from the Azorean archipelago (North Atlantic). We divided the species into three colonization categories: SIEs, archipelagic endemics (AZEs, present in at least two islands) and native non-endemics (NATs). For each category, we modelled rank-abundance plots using both the geometric series and the Gambin model, a measure of distributional amplitude. We also calculated Shannon entropy and Buzas and Gibson's evenness. We show that the slopes of the regression lines modelling SADs were significantly higher for SIEs, which indicates a relative predominance of a few highly abundant species and a lack of rare species, which also depresses diversity indices. This may be a consequence of two factors: (i) some forest specialist SIEs may be at advantage over other, less adapted species; (ii) the entire populations of SIEs are by definition concentrated on a single island, without possibility for inter-island source-sink dynamics; hence all populations must have a minimum number of individuals to survive natural, often unpredictable, fluctuations. These findings are supported by higher values of the α parameter of the Gambin mode for SIEs. In contrast, AZEs and NATs had lower regression slopes, lower α but higher diversity indices, resulting from their widespread distribution over several islands. We conclude that these differences in the SAD models and diversity indices demonstrate that the study of these metrics is useful for biogeographical purposes.