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Topic 1: What determines the

number of species in a
community?

Topic 1: Learning outcomes


1. Understand the different types of diversity (alpha, beta, gamma), and
how diversity varies across latitude
2. Explain the differences between evolutionary and ecological
hypotheses for latitudinal gradients in species richness, and why it is
so difficult to determine which of these actually generate the gradient
3. Describe the difference between the museum and cradle hypotheses,
and explain what evidence could be used to support each
4. Describe (verbally & mathematically) a species-area relationship
5. Explain which processes are important for a within-region (nested)
versus between-region species-area relationships
6. Use Island Biogeography Theory to explain how species richness
varies with island size and isolation
7. Explain a dynamic equilibrium
8. Distinguish between processes that are neutral with respect to
species identity, and those that are based on species niches
9. Contrast dispersal limitation versus biotic limitation of local
species richness
10.Explain the difference between a species fundamental and realized
niche
11.Understand the potential influence of competition, facilitation, and
predation on local species richness

Diversity: its a
matter of scale!

The different types of diversity:


Welcome to the ecological
fraternity, Alpha Beta Gamma

Alpha diversity: The number of


species at a particular site
t
s
e
r
Fo
Species A X
Species B X
Species C
Species D
Species E
Species F
Species G

Whats the alpha


diversity?
A.0
B.1
C.2
D.7
E.XX (Dos Equis)

Beta diversity: turnover in


species composition from one
site to the next

Species
Species
Species
Species
Species
Species
Species

a nd
n
t
s an sla
e
r av as
o
F S Gr
AX
BX
CX X
D
X
E
X X
F
X
G
X

Gamma diversity: Total diversity within a


region the combination of alpha and beta
diversity

Whats the gamma diversity in regions 1 and 2?

.0, 0
.3, 3
.0, 3
.7, 7
.7, 5

Region 1
a nd
n
t
s an sla
e
r av as
o
F S Gr
Species A X
Species B X
Species C X X
Species D
X
Species E
X X
Species F
X
Species G
X

d
Region 2 t
a
n
s nn sla
e
r va as
o
F Sa Gr
X
Species A X
Species B X X X
Species C X X
X
Species D
X
Species E
Species F
Species G

Beta diversity: can be measured as


gamma diversity minus average alpha
diversity

hats the beta diversity in regions 1 and 2?

3, 2
3, 3
4, 3
4, 2
7, 5

Region 1
a nd
n
t
s an sla
e
r av as
o
F S Gr
Species A X
Species B X
Species C X X
Species D
X
Species E
X X
Species F
X
Species G
X

d
Region 2 t
a
n
s nn sla
e
r va as
o
F Sa Gr
X
Species A X
Species B X X X
Species C X X
X
Species D
X
Species E
Species F
Species G

The simplest metric of diversity is Species


Richness:
the number of species in an area
(Here the number of plant species per 100km x < 100
100km pixel)
100 - 200
200 - 500
500 1,000
1,000 1,500
1,500 2,000
2,000 3,000
3,000 4,000
4,000 5,000
> 5,000

The overall global pattern in species


richness:
highest in the tropics, lowest near the
poles

Species
richness
(S)

Poles

Equator
Latitude

Observable pattern: There are VASTLY more species


in the tropics (low latitude) than at the
poles (high latitude)

Birds, amphibians, & mammals


combined

A single 50 ha plot in Borneo (thats a 1 km by


km rectangle) has more tree species (~1100) than
the entire temperate zone (North America, Europe,
northern Asia) combined!!

WHY are there so many more species in


the tropics than at the poles?
What mechanisms might account for
these patterns? How can they be
tested?
(Stay tuned for
next class!)

13

First of all: what are the tropics?


-More direct sunlight heats up
the tropical atmosphere
-The hot air rises and, as it
hits the upper atmosphere,
it cools
-Cold air can hold less
water, so the water
is dumped as rain
-The now dry air descends
at mid-latitudes, warming
up again, and creating
deserts
-Thats why the tropics tend to be
both hot and wet

Northern tropic line


(tropic of Cancer)
Equator
Southern tropic line
(tropic of Capricorn)

First of all: what are the tropics?

No
rt h
Equ
at
Sou
t

ern
tro
pic
l i ne

or

her
n

tro
pi

c li

ne

The tropics

Neotropics

Afrotropics

SE Asia

My personal latitudinal
gradient
Interior Alaska
Latitude: 65

Borneo
Worlds 3rd largest island
Latitude: 2

his is what interior Alaska looks like....

This is what Borneo looks like....

Borneo rainforest alpha and beta diversity

Alpha diversity:
Really high
Beta diversity:
Really high

Gamma diversity:
Through the roof

Alaskan tundra alpha and beta diversity

Alpha diversity:
Medium
Beta diversity:
Low

Gamma diversity:
Pretty low

Many more species in


Borneo!
288
Borneo
species

Mammals
~600
Birds
species
Snakes
145
Frogs
species
Trees
150
species
~5,000
species

76
Alaska

species
~200
species
0
species
2
species
~20
species

25

Topic 1: Learning outcomes


1. Understand the different types of diversity (alpha, beta, gamma), and
how diversity varies across latitude
2. Explain the differences between evolutionary and ecological
hypotheses for latitudinal gradients in species richness, and why it is
so difficult to determine which of these actually generate the gradient
3. Describe the difference between the museum and cradle hypotheses,
and explain what evidence could be used to support each
4. Describe (verbally & mathematically) a species-area relationship
5. Explain which processes are important for a within-region (nested)
versus between-region species-area relationships
6. Use Island Biogeography Theory to explain how species richness
varies with island size and isolation
7. Explain a dynamic equilibrium
8. Distinguish between processes that are neutral with respect to
species identity, and those that are based on species niches
9. Contrast dispersal limitation versus biotic limitation of local
species richness
10.Explain the difference between a species fundamental and realized
niche
11.Understand the potential influence of competition, facilitation, and
predation on local species richness