Reliability of a Higher-Taxon Approach to Richness, Rarity, and Composition Assessments at the Local Scale

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:Y. A. E. L. Mandelik, Dayan, T., Chikatunov, V., Kravchenko, V.
Journal:Conservation Biology
Date Published:December
Keywords:assessment, conservation, monitoring

A promising shortcut for quantifying species patterns is to use genera and families as surrogates of species. At large spatial scales, concurrence between patterns of richness, rarity, and composition of species and higher taxa is generally high. Only a few researchers, however, have examined this relationship at the local scale, which is frequently the relevant scale in land-use conflicts. We investigated the reliability of the higher-taxon approach in assessing patterns of species richness, rarity, and composition at the local scale. We studied diversity patterns of three commonly used surrogate taxa: vascular plants, ground-dwelling beetles, and moths. We conducted year-round field surveys for these taxa in the Jerusalem Mountains and the Judean foothills, Israel. Richness and composition of species were highly correlated with richness and composition of genera for all taxa. At the family level, correlations with richness and composition of species were much lower. Excluding monotypic genera and families did not affect these relations. Rarity representation based on higher taxa varied considerably depending on the taxon, and rarity scale and was weaker compared with richness and composition representation. Cumulative richness curves of species and genera showed similar patterns, leveling off at equivalent sampling efforts. Genus-level assessments were a reliable surrogate for local patterns of species richness, rarity, and composition, but family-level assessments performed poorly. The advantage of using coarse taxonomic scales in local diversity surveys is that it may decrease identification time and the need for experts, but it will not reduce sampling effort.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith