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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Species richness and composition differ in response to landscape and biogeography

Aggemyr, Elsa; Auffret, Alistair G.; Jaedergard, Love; Cousins, Sara A. O.


ContextUnderstanding how landscape patterns affect species diversity is of great importance in the fields of biogeography, landscape ecology and conservation planning, but despite the rapid advance in biodiversity analysis, investigations of spatial effects on biodiversity are still largely focused on species richness.ObjectivesWe wanted to know if and how species richness and species composition are differentially driven by the spatial measures dominating studies in landscape ecology and biogeography. As both measures require the same limited presence/absence information, it is important to choose an appropriate diversity measure, as differing results could have important consequences for interpreting ecological processes.MethodsWe recorded plant occurrences on 112 islands in the Baltic archipelago. Species richness and composition were calculated for each island, and the explanatory power of island area and habitat heterogeneity, distance to mainland and structural connectivity at three different landscape sizes were examined.ResultsA total of 354 different plant species were recorded. The influence of landscape variables differed depending on which diversity measure was used. Island area and structural connectivity determined plant species richness, while species composition revealed a more complex pattern, being influenced by island area, habitat heterogeneity and structural connectivity.ConclusionsAlthough both measures require the same basic input data, species composition can reveal more about the ecological processes affecting plant communities in fragmented landscapes than species richness alone. Therefore, we recommend that species community composition should be used as an additional standard measure of diversity for biogeography, landscape ecology and conservation planning.


Archipelago; Baltic Sea; Diversity measure; Island biogeography; Landscape variables; Plants; Species-area relationship; Species composition; Species richness; Structural connectivity

Published in

Landscape Ecology
2018, volume: 33, number: 12, pages: 2273-2284
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Aggemyr, Elsa
Stockholm University
Stockholm University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Jaedergard, Love
Stockholm University
Cousins, Sara A. O.
Stockholm University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Physical Geography

Publication Identifiers


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