Artifacts and artifictioxns in biodiversity research

Michael W. Palmer, Daniel J. McGlinn, Jason D. Fridley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The biodiversity crisis demands that scientists be careful in their application of quantitative methods, because misuse of biodiversity statistics can lead to trivial but real patterns (artifacts) or to false patterns (artifictions). While misuses such as biases in taxonomic ratios, standardization by dividing by area or individuals, and the rarefaction effect have been repeatedly recognized in the literature, they continue to appear regularly in the scientific literature. Here, we illustrate (using data from North American floras and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma, USA) examples of how artifacts and artifictions can lead to misinterpretation of biodiversity patterns. We urge biogeographers and ecologists to be vigilant when using biodiversity statistics, to avoid false interpretations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
JournalFolia Geobotanica
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Bias
  • Floristics
  • Rarefaction effect
  • Species area relationship
  • Species richness
  • Tallgrass prairie
  • Taxonomic ratios

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Palaeontology


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