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Assessing species saturation: conceptual and methodological challenges


Olivares, Ingrid; Karger, Dirk N; Kessler, Michael (2018). Assessing species saturation: conceptual and methodological challenges. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 93(4):1874-1890.

Abstract

Is there a maximum number of species that can coexist? Intuitively, we assume an upper limit to the number of species in a given assemblage, or that a lineage can produce, but defining and testing this limit has proven problematic. Herein, we first outline seven general challenges of studies on species saturation, most of which are independent of the actual method used to assess saturation. Among these are the challenge of defining saturation conceptually and operationally, the importance of setting an appropriate referential system, and the need to discriminate among patterns, processes and mechanisms. Second, we list and discuss the methodological approaches that have been used to study species saturation. These approaches vary in time and spatial scales, and in the variables and assumptions needed to assess saturation. We argue that assessing species saturation is possible, but that many studies conducted to date have conceptual and methodological flaws that prevent us from currently attaining a good idea of the occurrence of species saturation.

Abstract

Is there a maximum number of species that can coexist? Intuitively, we assume an upper limit to the number of species in a given assemblage, or that a lineage can produce, but defining and testing this limit has proven problematic. Herein, we first outline seven general challenges of studies on species saturation, most of which are independent of the actual method used to assess saturation. Among these are the challenge of defining saturation conceptually and operationally, the importance of setting an appropriate referential system, and the need to discriminate among patterns, processes and mechanisms. Second, we list and discuss the methodological approaches that have been used to study species saturation. These approaches vary in time and spatial scales, and in the variables and assumptions needed to assess saturation. We argue that assessing species saturation is possible, but that many studies conducted to date have conceptual and methodological flaws that prevent us from currently attaining a good idea of the occurrence of species saturation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:1 November 2018
Deposited On:08 May 2018 14:58
Last Modified:07 Oct 2018 01:01
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0006-3231
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12424
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCRSII3_147630
  • : Project TitleTesting the limits and constraints of species radiations

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