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Last Update: February 11, 2008

Chapter 5 - Putting it together - biodiversity, classifications and ecosystems.

New books and papers | Websites

Chapter Outline :

    • Classification is the basis of all biogeographic study because it enables us to make a complex environment more understandable;
    • Classification has numerous uses beyond the simple grouping of species;
    • Classification is not without problems. These can range from the separation of two similar life forms into species to the theory of evolution;
    • Classification is controlled by three factors: the features used for classification, the methods used and the scale upon which the classification is to operate;
    • Biodiversity is a commonly used (and misused) word implying the range of species present in an area but in fact dealing with diversity from genetics to communities;
    • Biodiversity is held to be important partly because of the value people place on having a diverse range of species in the biosphere and partly through its connections with ecosystem functioning;
    • Although a simple term to use, the actual concept of biodiversity is beset with practical and theoretical differences;


New books and papers
Author(s) Title (and link) Comment
Kreft and Jetz 2007 Global patterns and determinants of
vascular plant diversity
Many models have been used to describe these patterns. This work shows many models to be linked synergistically with water-energy dynamics being the main factor.
Clark et al 2007 Resolving the biodiversity paradox Argues that simple models of biodiversity do not work and that a truer picture lies in multi-dimensional models of greater complexity
Cabeza et al 2007 Top predators: hot or not? A call for systematic assessment
of biodiversity surrogates
Part of a recent, developing controversy as to the value of specific species as proxies for biodiversity measurements.
Daskalov et al 2007 Trophic cascades triggered by overfishing reveal possible mechanisms of ecosystem regime shifts Anthropogenic influence, in this case heavy fishing, can create considerable changes in trophic cascades suggesting that such activity has importance beyond the simple act of metapopulation removal
Hector and Bagchi 2007 Biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality Notes that if areas are to have multi-purpose use then their species diversity would need to be higher than areas with less use.
Cardinale et al 2006 Effects of biodiversity on the functioning of trophic groups and ecosystems Loss of species has a greater impact than just removal of one part of the food web. It cascades through a series of trophic levels altering, for example, biomass.
Ceballos and Ehrlich 2006 Global mammal distributions, biodiversity hotspots, and conservation Argues that basing conservation strategies on 'hotspots' alone is not the best option because measures of conservation need do not correspond to these areas.
Tilman, Reich and Knops 2006 Biodiversity and ecosystem stability in a decadelong grassland experiment Ecosystem stabilityand thus productivity can be increased by the promotion of biodiversity. See also, this reply
Bini et al 2006 Challenging Wallacean and Linnean
shortfalls: knowledge gradients and
conservation planning in a biodiversity hotspot
Much of the work of biodiversity is based on extant data. Here, a technique is described for inferring accurately species that might be present in 'gaps' in the knowledge.
Wilme, Goodman and Ganzhorn 2006 Biogeographic Evolution of
Madagascar’s Microendemic Biota
New studies can account for Madagascar's unique level of endemicity if watersheds are used.
Orme et al 2006 Global Patterns of Geographic Range Size in Birds Demonstrates that, on a global basis, range is not a simple response to gradients.
Lamoreux et al 2006 Global tests of biodiversity concordance and the importance of endemism. Endemism can be a useful surrogate for biodiversity in conservation planning.
Funk et al 2006 Ecological divergence exhibits consistently positive associations with reproductive isolation across
disparate taxa
A large-scale experiment lends support to the hypothesis that ecological adaptation promotes speciation.
Dornelas et al 2006 Coral reef diversity refutes the neutral theory of biodiversity Neutral theory is a key element in explaining biodiversity pattens. This research shows it might not be universal.
Beever, Swihart and Bestelmeyer 2006 Linking the concept of scale to studies of biological diversity: evolving approaches and tools Suggests ways in which the issue of scale can be addressed to better understand issues in biodiversity.
Joyce et al 2005 An extant cichlid fish radiation
emerged in an extinct Pleistocene lake
Describes the importance of the physical environment in speciation.
Hoskin et al 2005 Reinforcement drives rapid allopatric speciation Speciation moves faster in areas where natural selection gets positive reinforcement
Filardi and Moyle 2005 Single origin of a pan-Pacific bird group and upstream colonization of Australasia Shows the value of using molecular phylogenetic techniques to identify origins.
Bunker et al 2005 Species Loss and Aboveground
Carbon Storage in a Tropical Forest
Carbon sequestration is likely to be impacted heavily by which species remain.
Brandt 2005 Evolution of Antarctic biodiversity in the context of the past: the
importance of the Southern Ocean deep sea
This paper discusses the importance of past tectonic movements and modern ocean currents on Polar biodiversity.
Orme et al 2005 Global hotspots of species richness are not congruent with endemism or threat Biodiversity hotspots are not, as is usually supposed, the best area for every species - other factors need to be taken into account.
Xie et al 2005. Two episodes of microbial change
coupled with Permo/Triassic
faunal mass extinction
Describes a new way of assessing microbial expansion following mass extinctions.
Sergio, Newton and Marches 2005. Top predators and biodiversity. Nature 436. July 14, 2005. p192. Top predators are a great proxy for conservation not least because of their 'charisma' in marketing. However, they also have a real value as a proxy species and despite challenge there is nothing yet to replace them.
Scholes and Biggs 2005. A biodiversity intactness index It's difficult to measure biodiversity. Here there's an attempt to use a different model to gain some sort of quantifiable data.
Postma and van Noordwijk 2005. Gene flow maintains a large genetic difference in clutch size at a small spatial scale Rates of immigration can affect considerably gene flow and genetic differences.
 Fortin et al 2005  Species’ geographic ranges and distributional limits: pattern analysis
and statistical issues
 Discusses the need for a more robust way of working out geographical boundaries for speices and describes it use for conservation.
Wilson et al 2004 Spatial patterns in species distributions reveal biodiversity change Past distribution patterns are scarse but estimates can be made using current distribution patterns.
Vázquez and Gaston 2004 Rarity, commonness, and patterns of
species richness: the mammals of Mexico
Argues that presence/absence of common species tells us more about spatial varaition than rare species.
Rauch and Bar-Yam 2004. Theory predicts the uneven distribution of genetic diversity within species Just as biodiversity occurs in 'hotspots' so does within-species diversity suggesting a need to chose conservation area carefully.

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