Gradients of Beta-diversity

Principal Investigator(s): 

Jonathan Chase, Nathan Sanders, and Amy Freestone

Serpentine Grasslands in California Showing β-diversity        Credit: Brian Inouye 


The factors that regulate biodiversity in any given locality are well studied, and include environmental, biotic, and regional factors. An important but poorly understood aspect of biodiversity is the variation in the composition of species that occur in different localities. This compositional variation, known as β-diversity, is driven by a variety of factors. Understanding the patterns of β-diversity and underlying processes that shape it is fundamental to studies of biodiversity, but is hampered by a lack of appropriate metrics, statistical analyses, and datasets. This working group will bring together ecologists with varied expertise in biodiversity and its statistical analysis across a variety of ecosystems. We will develop β-diversity metrics and analyses. We will then use these to synthesize the patterns of β-diversity among a variety of taxa along key ecological gradients to understand how and why β-diversity varies spatially, and how it influences the scaling of biodiversity from small to large scales. This research will not only provide a much clearer understanding of biodiversity gradients across ecological scales, but will inform biodiversity conservation and restoration actions, which typically only focus on local spatial scales.

More information about this research project, participants, and publications.