Community (multi-species) models

Our topic in this section cuts across two fields of study, one which emphasizes the “community” in the title, and the other takes an interest in the “species”.

Synecology is primarily concerned with parameters describing communities or assemblages of species defined in terms of taxon and area of interest. These parameters include species richness, diversity indices, similarity indices, and the relationship of these to habitat covariates. The raw data here are species lists or counts, but those will be incomplete unless detection is perfect, which can’t be guaranteed. The analysis methods for estimating occupancy and abundance allowing for imperfect detection can help; see Iknayan et al (2014)1Iknayan, K.J., Tingley, M.W., Furnas, B.J., & Beissinger, S.R. (2014) Detecting diversity: emerging methods to estimate species diversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 29, 97-106. for discussion.

Autecology is concerned with a single focal species and its distribution and abundance in space and time. Most of the analyses in the rest of the tutorial relate to single species. For many rare and cryptic species, the data are difficult and expensive to collect and data sets are sparse. Then it’s helpful to incorporate information from similar species into the analysis – through a hierarchical multi-species model – to get better estimates.

Work in progress