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Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Jan 7;280(1750):20121931. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1931. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Quantifying temporal change in biodiversity: challenges and opportunities.

Author information

1
Scottish Oceans Institute and Centre for Biological Diversity, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, East Sands, KY16 8LB, UK. maadd@st-andrews.ac.uk

Abstract

Growing concern about biodiversity loss underscores the need to quantify and understand temporal change. Here, we review the opportunities presented by biodiversity time series, and address three related issues: (i) recognizing the characteristics of temporal data; (ii) selecting appropriate statistical procedures for analysing temporal data; and (iii) inferring and forecasting biodiversity change. With regard to the first issue, we draw attention to defining characteristics of biodiversity time series--lack of physical boundaries, uni-dimensionality, autocorrelation and directionality--that inform the choice of analytic methods. Second, we explore methods of quantifying change in biodiversity at different timescales, noting that autocorrelation can be viewed as a feature that sheds light on the underlying structure of temporal change. Finally, we address the transition from inferring to forecasting biodiversity change, highlighting potential pitfalls associated with phase-shifts and novel conditions.

PMID:
23097514
PMCID:
PMC3574422
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2012.1931
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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