Island biogeography

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Offline Evie

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Island biogeography
« on: 28/07/2005 21:27:58 »
Hello, all.

I'm a new member here. I have a BS in Earth Science from UNLV. I've been reading a great book that I'm sure many of you are familiar with entitled "The Song of the Dodo: Island biogeography in an age of extinctions" by David Quammen. I have been thoroughly impressed by it. This may be too specific of a question, but I thought I would throw it out there and see if just maybe someone here would know the answer.

When dealing with the Wilson/MacArthur species equilibrium model (extinctions and immigrations plotted against the number of species in a limited area), does it plot ALL of the species on an island or just the number of species from a specific group (ie: birds, mammals, plants)? Or, can it be used for either?

If you have the book and are wondering where I am, I'm reading the section called The Coming Thing which starts on page 409 of my hardcover. The example used in the book talks only about bird species on Krakatau (chapter 118), hence my confusion.

Sorry if this is too specific...feel free to post random things.[8D]

Evie [^]

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Offline finchbeak

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Re: Island biogeography
« Reply #1 on: 01/08/2005 04:01:20 »
I'm new here also.  As I have a background in ecology, I'll take a stab here.
In theory, the MacArthur-Wilson model can apply to any taxonomic group, although it occurs to me that larger groups (i.e. higher taxonomic levels) should follow the model more faithfully than smaller ones.  For example, if you were to count, say, cricket species, you would have a lot of difficulty because there just aren't all that many different kinds of crickets to begin with.  You would have such woefully small counts that you would have a bad signal/noise ratio problem.  Thus, larger taxa make more sense.  In this example, one might be better off counting all orthopteran species or all insect species.  
On the other hand, you could end up with taxa that are too large: counting all species on a large island would be ideal, but practically impossible.  In the original MacArthur & Wilson field studies (if I remember correctly) they counted all insect species and they were working on exceptionally small "islands" - the smallest were individual mangrove trees - in the Florida keys.  Even then, the surveying turned out to be extremely difficult work; they recruited literally dozens of their colleagues and friends to help out.