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Analytical developments in the use of resemblance measures in community ecology and applications to boreal forest Carabidae Open Access


Other title
Community ecology
resemblance measures
species abundance distribution
multivariate analysis
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Blanchet, Guillaume
Supervisor and department
He, Fangliang (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Lewis, Mark (Mathematical and Statistical Sciences/Biological Sciences)
Spence, John R. (Renewable Resources)
Roberts, David W. (Ecology, Montana State University)
Lele, Subhash (Mathematical and Statistical Sciences)
Macdonald, Ellen (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Conservation Biology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Understanding the factors influencing the distribution of species is one of the main goals of ecology. This thesis presents three contributions to better and more efficiently understand the factors defining the composition of ecological communities. First, I studied the impact of anthropogenic disturbances, habitat heterogeneity, and spatial autocorrelation on Carabidae in a mature boreal forest. I showed that carabids were influenced mainly by forest floor cover, soil drainage, and tree composition. Moderate levels of anthropogenic disturbance only mildly influenced the spatial distribution of the carabid assemblages. I concluded that, carabid diversity would be best conserved in boreal forests if a network of large forest patches were left after harvest. Second, I considered the difficulty of analysing multivariate data, the main challenge in analysing species communities. Canonical redundancy analysis (RDA) is a flexible approach to relating a species community to environmental constraints. Although flexibility flows from the fact that any resemblance measure can be used within this framework, there is little guidance for how to select from the large number of existing resemblance measures. Using communities simulated from 25 different species abundance distributions (SAD), I compared results from 16 different resemblance measures within the RDA framework. The results showed that, independent of SADs, all resemblance measures gave equivalent results whether the communities were recorded as abundance or presence-absence data. In light of these results, I proposed a new canonical ordination to make a consensus of RDAs across resemblance measures. In my simulations presence-absence data were directly derived from abundance data, and so I also evaluated if the information in presence-absence and abundance data gave equivalent result. I found that the data formats may be complementary. Lastly, in ecological applications, either abundance/cover or presence-absence data are collected when species communities are sampled. With the help of resemblance measures, I propose a new way to survey ecological communities that is intermediate between presence-absence and abundance data. This approach is more cost-effective than counting abundance yet more informative than recording presence-absence. Overall, this thesis contributes to understanding spatial distribution of carabids in boreal forests and provides new methods to analyse multivariate ecological data.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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