Theory in Biosciences

, Volume 133, Issue 3–4, pp 175–178 | Cite as

Estimation of species extinction: what are the consequences when total species number is unknown?

  • Youhua ChenEmail author
Short Communication


The species–area relationship (SAR) is known to overestimate species extinction but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear to a great extent. Here, I show that when total species number in an area is unknown, the SAR model exaggerates the estimation of species extinction. It is proposed that to accurately estimate species extinction caused by habitat destruction, one of the principal prerequisites is to accurately total the species numbers presented in the whole study area. One can better evaluate and compare alternative theoretical SAR models on the accurate estimation of species loss only when the exact total species number for the whole area is clear. This presents an opportunity for ecologists to simulate more research on accurately estimating Whittaker’s gamma diversity for the purpose of better predicting species loss.


Diversity partitioning Species–area curve Power-law models Biodiversity conservation Biodiversity crisis 



The author is grateful to Profs. Jürgen Jost, Arto Annila and another anonymous reviewer for their comments, which helped to improve the quality of earlier versions of the manuscript. I am very appreciative to Kimberly Low and Dr. Rana Sarfraz for their helps with polishing the language. This work was done with the support of the University of British Columbia and China Scholarship Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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