Spatial and temporal analysis of beta diversity in the Barro Colorado Island forest dynamics plot, Panama

Pierre Legendre, Richard Condit
2019 Forest Ecosystems  
Ecologists are interested in assessing the spatial and temporal variation in ecological surveys repeated over time. This paper compares the 1985 and 2015 surveys of the Barro Colorado Forest Dynamics plot (BCI), Panama, divided into 1250 (20 m × 20 m) quadrats. Methods, spatial analysis: Total beta diversity was measured as the total variance of the Hellinger-transformed community data throughout the BCI plot. Total beta was partitioned into contributions of individual sites (LCBD indices),
more » ... h were tested for significance and mapped. Results, spatial analysis: LCBD indices indicated the sites with exceptional community composition. In 1985, they were mostly found in the swamp habitat. In the 2015 survey, none of the swamp quadrats had significant LCBDs. What happened to the tree community in the interval? Methods, temporal analysis: The dissimilarity in community composition in each quadrat was measured between time 1 (1985) and time 2 (2015). Temporal Beta Indices (TBI) were computed from abundance and presence-absence data and tested for significance. TBI indices can be decomposed into B = species (or abundances-per-species) losses and C = species (or abundances-per-species) gains. B-C plots were produced; they display visually the relative importance of the loss and gain components, through time, across the sites. Results, temporal analysis: In BCI, quadrats with significant TBI indices were found in the swamp area, which is shrinking in importance due to changes to the local climate. A published habitat classification divided the BCI forest plot into six habitat zones. Graphs of the B and C components were produced for each habitat group. Group 4 (the swamp) was dominated by species (and abundances-per-species) gains whereas the five other habitat groups were dominated by losses, some groups more than others. Conclusions: We identified the species that had changed the most in abundances in the swamp between T1 and T2. This analysis supported the hypothesis that the swamp is drying out and is invaded by species from the surrounding area. Analysis of the B and C components of temporal beta diversity bring us to the heart of the mechanisms of community change through time: losses (B) and gains (C) of species, losses and gains of individuals of various species. TBI analysis is especially interesting in species-rich communities where we cannot examine the changes in every species individually.
doi:10.1186/s40663-019-0164-4 fatcat:m43m5qjsajel7c65vydp5w6pi4