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New method used to assess impact of individual species on Biodiversity

by Selwyn Bergman
on 20 Feb 2008
Oceanography SA
Oceanography SA

A German and Sri Lankan research team has used a new method to gauge the impact of individual species on local biodiversity, by extending the existing species-area relationship (SAR). The newly developed method uses statistical methods to describe the role that individual species play on biodiversity.

The method, known as the Individual Species-Area Relationship (ISAR), makes it easier to identify which are key species, and thus make it easier to understand the role that individual species perform in ecosystems. Additionally, it could be used to assess the consequences of a change in the ecosystem.

The method was used to evaluate data on rainforests in Sri Lanka and Panama. The researchers were surprised to discover that more than two-thirds of the species did not have a significant impact on spatial diversity.

Biodiversity issues are important during all environmental assessments and have made an notable impression on Estuarine and Coastal studies done around South Africa. The new method can potentially be used to enrich future studies.

Adapted from: Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
URL: New method for measuring biodiversity

Journal Reference:
Thorsten Wiegand, C. V. Savitri Gunatilleke, I. A. U. Nimal Gunatilleke, and Andreas Huth: How individual species structure diversity in tropical forests. PNAS, 10.1073/pnas.0705621104 ( Ecology )


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