New EU BON article looks into incorporating spatial autocorrelation in rarefaction methods

A new EU BON acknowledged article looks at the recently introduced in scientific literature methods for constructing Spatially Explicit Rarefaction (SER) and their implication for ecologists and conservation biologist. The research was published in the journal Ecological Indicators.


Recently, methods for constructing Spatially Explicit Rarefaction (SER) curves have been introduced in the scientific literature to describe the relation between the recorded species richness and sampling effort and taking into account for the spatial autocorrelation in the data. Despite these methodological advances, the use of SERs has not become routine and ecologists continue to use rarefaction methods that are not spatially explicit. Using two study cases from Italian vegetation surveys, we demonstrate that classic rarefaction methods that do not account for spatial structure can produce inaccurate results. Furthermore, our goal in this paper is to demonstrate how SERs can overcome the problem of spatial autocorrelation in the analysis of plant or animal communities. Our analyses demonstrate that using a spatially-explicit method for constructing rarefaction curves can substantially alter estimates of relative species richness. For both analyzed data sets, we found that the rank ordering of standardized species richness estimates was reversed between the two methods. We strongly advise the use of Spatially Explicit Rarefaction methods when analyzing biodiversity: the inclusion of spatial autocorrelation into rarefaction analyses can substantially alter conclusions and change the way we might prioritize or manage nature reserves.

Original Source: 

Bacaro, G., Altobelli, A., Camelletti, M., Ciccarelli, D., Martellos, S., Palmer, M.W., Ricotta, C., Rocchini, D., Scheiner, S.M., Tordoni, E., Chiarucci, A. (2016). Incorporating spatial autocorrelation in rarefaction methods: implications for ecologists and conservation biologists. Ecological Indicators, 69: 233-238. [5years-IF: 3.494] doi:

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flag big This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 308454.