Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 275-288

First online:

Placing empirical limits on metapopulation models for terrestrial plants

  • SAMUEL M. ScheinerAffiliated withDepartment of Life Sciences (2352), Arizona State University West
  • , JOSE´ M. Rey-BenayasAffiliated withArea de Ecologi´a, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Alcala´

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Both island-biogeographic (dynamic) and niche-based (static) metapopulation models make predictions about the distribution and abundance of species assemblages. We tested the utility of these models concerning such predictions for terrestrial vascular plants using data from 74 landscapes across the globe. We examined correlations between species frequency and local abundance and shapes of the species frequency distribution. No data set met all of the predictions of any single island-biogeographic metapopulation model. In contrast, all data sets met the predictions of the niche-based model. We conclude that in predicting the distribution of species assemblages of plants over scales greater than 10–1 km, niche-based models are robust while current metapopulation models are insufficient. We discuss limitations in the assumptions of the various models and the types of empirical observations that they will each have to deal with in further developments.

island biogeography niche-based models species distributions terrestrial plants