The species chromatogram, a new graphical method to represent, characterize, and compare the ecological niches of different species

Kléparski, L; Beaugrand, G. 2022 The species chromatogram, a new graphical method to represent, characterize, and compare the ecological niches of different species. Ecology and Evolution, 12 (4), e8830. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8830

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Abstract/Summary

The ecological niche sensu Hutchinson is defined as the set of environmental conditions allowing a species to grow, maintain, and reproduce. This conception of the niche, which is assimilated to a p-dimensional hypervolume, with p representing all environmental variables, has been widely applied in ecology. However, displaying the niche hypervolume has proved challenging when more than three environmental dimensions are considered simultaneously. We propose a simple method (implemented in the specieschrom R package) that displays the full multidimensionality of the ecological niche of a species into a two-dimensional space by means of a graphic we call species chromatogram. This method gives a graphical summary of the niche by representing together abundance gradients with respect to all environmental variables. A chromatogram enables niche optimums and breaths to be rapidly quantified, and when several chromatograms are examined (one per species), rapid comparisons can be made. From our chromatograms, we proposed a procedure that quantifies niche optimum and breadth as well as niche overlapping (index D) and the identification of the most discriminant combination of environmental variables. We apply these analyses on eight planktonic species collected by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey in the North Atlantic Ocean using 10 environmental variables. We display their full multidimensional niches and quantify their niche optimums and breadths along each dimension. We also compare our index D with other indices by means of hypervolume and dynRB R packages. By catching the full complexity of the niche, species chromatograms allow many different niche properties to be rapidly assessed and compared among species from niche optimums and breadths to the identification of the most relevant environmental parameters and the degree of niche overlapping among species. Species chromatograms may be seen as species’ fingerprint and may also allow a better identification of the mechanisms involved in species assembly.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: degree of niche overlapping, ecological niche, gradient analysis, hypervolume, niche breadth, niche optimum
Subjects: Biology
Ecology and Environment
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Continuous Plankton Recorder
Depositing User: Tamar Atkinson
Date made live: 27 May 2022 15:05
Last Modified: 27 May 2022 15:05
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/9683

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