IGN 10-6
Ecological constraints predict the spatial structure of biodiversity

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
101C, Minneapolis Convention Center
Daniel J. McGlinn, Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT
Ethan P. White, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation and the Informatics Institute,, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Conservation strategies depend on a basic understanding of how communities are spatially structured.  The Maximum Entropy Theory of Ecology (METE) proposes that communities may be in the most likely spatial distribution given two ecological constraints: total number of species and total number of individuals.  We developed and tested the spatial predictions of METE using the species-area and distance-decay relationships across a global forest dataset. The METE predictions were extremely accurate for the species-area relationship, but METE generally predicted steeper patterns of distance-decay than observed empirically.  Our results demonstrate that ecological constraints can inform predictions of spatial community structure.