Thursday, July 19, 2012

Colonization rates and species richness

Our first publication from the amazing spanish pond system set-up by Andy Green and his group, but especially with the hard work of Dagmar Frisch, who has the patience of a saint to keep collaborating with me: "Strong Spatial Influence on Colonization Rates in a Pioneer Zooplankton Metacommunity" in Plos One.

Each published article is unique in its calvary to publication. Most often, this is not visible to the reader, although sometimes you can tell that certain parts in the manuscript are clearly added on to satisfy a reviewer's pet peeve. For this publication in particular, it rested on how to define "Inundation days", the  essential part of our measure of colonisation rate. After some back and forth with reviewers, we agreed on the following figure:
As you can probably tell from the formatting, this figure is only:

  • available in the supplemental material
  • shows both the age of the analyses in this manuscript and my inertia, since it still uses the Lattice package in R, instead of the now much more used ggplot2 package
But I am still so proud of this figure, since it also provides me with a reminder that species richness as a concept can be useful. I am still working, if only in my mind, on a publication on why we should not use "species richness" as much as we do in community ecology. But I also believe that maybe there are only two cases for a defendable use of species richness. One is in the context of "regional" species richness, of which this figure illustrates one component: the potential species that could occur within a site because they have been detected there at least once throughout its colonization history.

The second case of defendable use of species richness is in a metacommunity with neutral (or neutral-like) species. But I will hopefully explore this in more detail down the road.