A comparative analysis of nested subset patterns of species composition

David H WrightWirt Atmar


We present a broad comparative assessment of nested subsets in species composition among ecological communities. We assembled presence-absence data from a broad range of taxa, geographic regions, and spatial scales; and subjected this collection of datasets to common analyses, including a variety of metrics for measuring nestedness and null hypotheses against which to evaluate them. Here we identify ecological patterns in the prevalence and strength of nested subset structure, and assess differences and biases among the available methodologies. In all, we compiled 279 presence-absence matrices, of which 163 do not overlap in their coverage of species and sites. The survey includes studies on vertebrates, arthropods, mollusks, plants, and other taxa; from north temperate, tropical, and south temperate latitudes. Our results were as follows. Statistically significant nestedness was common. Assemblages from landbridge archipelagos were strongly nested, and immigration experiments were least nested. This adds further empirical support to the hypothesis that extinction plays a major role in producing nested structure. Nestedness was positively correlated with the ratio of the areas of the largest and smallest sites, suggesting that ...Continue Reading


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