Integration of local and regional species-area relationships from space-time species accumulation

Jason D. Fridley, Robert K. Peet, Eddy Van Der Maarel, Jo H. Willems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


A long-standing observation in community ecology is that the scaling of species richness, as exemplified by species-area curves, differs on local and regional scales. This decoupling of scales may be largely due to sampling processes (the increasing constraint imposed by sampling fewer individuals at fine scales), as distinct from ecological processes, such as environmental heterogeneity, that operate across scales. Removal of the sampling constraint from fine-scale richness estimates should yield species-area curves that behave like those of the regions in which they are embedded, but an effective method for this removal has not been available. We suggest an approach that incorporates the manner in which small areas accumulate species over time as a way to remove the signature of sampling processes from fine-scale species-area curves. We report for three species-rich grasslands from two continents how local plant species richness is distributed through time at multiple, nested spatial scales, and we ask whether sampling-corrected curves reflect the spatial scaling of richness of each larger floristic province. Our analysis suggests that fine-scale values of richness are highly constrained by sampling processes, but once these constraints are removed, the spatial scaling of species richness is consistent from the scale of individuals to that of an entire province.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Grassland
  • Preston
  • Scale dependence
  • Species richness
  • Species-area curve
  • Species-time curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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