Species accumulation curves and the measure of sampling effort.

Published online
22 Aug 2001
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Willott, S. J.

Publication language
Malaysia & Borneo


This article discusses a recent paper [Moreno and Halffter, Journal of Applied Ecology (2000) 37, 149-158] that described the problems associated with comparing species richness among communities that have inventories compiled using different methods or with different sampling effort. Species accumulation curves were used to standardize samples among sites, to predict the species richness of sites and to estimate the minimum effort required for adequate completeness of inventories. In this article it is argued that their measure of sampling effort, number of nights, is inappropriate because it does not distinguish between genuine differences in species richness among sites and differences in trap efficiency. The number of individuals is the best measure of sampling effort to avoid this problem, as illustrated by data on moths collected from a tropical forest around the Danum Valley Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Furthermore, the approach of Moreno & Halffter requires the species accumulation curves to be approaching an asymptote for accurate estimation, and so for practical reasons, it is probably limited to less diverse taxa.

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