Beta diversity in spatially implicit neutral models: a new way to assess species migration

Am Nat. 2008 Jul;172(1):116-27. doi: 10.1086/587842.


The spatially implicit neutral model (SINM) of S. P. Hubbell predicts species' abundance distributions at two levels: local communities where extinction balances immigration, characterized by the immigration number I, and the metacommunity, a source pool of migrants where speciation balances extinction. Previously, a plot's I was estimated from its species abundance distribution. Here, we relate neutral theory to the additive partitioning of species diversity and calculate the immigration rate into different plots from the variation in species composition among them. We revisit the G(ST) statistic of population genetics to introduce a new version, G(ST)(k), conditional on each community sample k. We derive an analytical expectation of G(ST)(k) as a function of the local immigration number, I(k), under a generalized version of the SINM, which allows the pool of migrants to deviate from the large-scale speciation-extinction balance. Simulations and field data suggest that G(ST)(k) provides reasonable estimates of immigration numbers, which were compared with the results from alternative likelihood-based estimations.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Migration*
  • Animals
  • Biodiversity*
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Population Density