Beyond species richness: Community similarity for coarse-filter conservation.
Debinski, Diane*,1, Su, Jeff2, 1 Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA2 Gould league, Melbourne, Australia
ABSTRACT- Conservation planning strategies have broadened from single species approaches and attempt to identify representative arrays of biotic communities (e.g., coarse-filter strategies) and abiotic gradients as surrogates for overall biodiversity. The primary assumption of these approaches is that different taxa will occur in predictable assemblages across the areas or gradients selected. The validity of this assumption is suspect because recent evidence suggests that the correlation of species richness and coincidence of diversity "hotspots" between pairs of taxa is highly variable. However, we show that measures of community composition are more appropriate than measures of species richness for evaluating patterns of cross-taxa congruency in the context of biotic community and abiotic approaches to conservation planning. We test for correlations of species richness and community comoposition (Bray-Curtis similarity) among birds, butterflies and vascular plants in montane meadow types classified from remote-sensing data. While patterns of species richness between taxa were variable (Spearman rank correlation) we consistently found a positive correlation in community composition between meadows among the different taxa (e.g., sites with similar bird communities also had similar butterfly communities) (Mantel test).
Key words: biodiversity, species richness, coarse filter
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