Affinities and high-order diversity within landscape mosaics

TitleAffinities and high-order diversity within landscape mosaics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsIstock CAlan, Scheiner SM
JournalEvolutionary Ecology

Concepts and methods for use in the study of plant community variation across a single landscape, or for the comparative analysis of two or more landscapes, are presented. The method is called affinity analysis because it produces a sorting and scaling of all the communities in a data set according to degree of differentiation in composition away from an objectively identified subset of modal communities. Modal communities possess maximum affinity with the whole landscape because they contain a large number of the species common throughout the landscape. The modal communities provide a kind of central tendency for the landscape and an anchor for depiciting the dispersion of all other communities in it. To accomplish affinity analysis, the Jaccard similarity coefficient and the Wilcoxon T statistic are used in a two-step transformation of the primary species-by-site data matrix. From these calculations we obtain both a visual image, the S-T graph, and summary statistics for the landscape-wide diversity described by the data. One summary statisticis a high-order diversity measure for the total patchwork of communities. We refer to this measure as mosaic diversity. The analytical results are referred to collectively as the 'metastructure' because they provide a general, abstract, characterization of any set of community data. This abstract rendering of the data allows comparison of pattern and variation between taxonomically, geographically, and temporally different landscapes. Either presence/absence or abundance data may be used. Examples using artificial and field data are presented. All but one of the field data sets showed a significantly higher mosaic diversity than would be expected from a randomly constructed landscape. We also show how the new methods may be used with ordination to explore intralandscape patterns in more detail than was previously possible. In addition to statistical matters, ecological and evolutionary interpretations of affinity analysis are discussed. Topics included in this discussion involve reasoning about the influences on diversity arising from micro- and macroevolution, species packing and association, environmental gradients, differential fitness expression among species-populations, continuity in community variation, and the uses of both presence/absence and abundance data in community studies. Among the examples provided, mosaic diversity is independent of beta diversity (Whittaker, 1972).