PLoS ONE | VOL. 16

Combining botanical collections and ecological data to better describe plant community diversity

Publication Date Jan 1, 2021


In this age of rapid biodiversity loss, we must continue to refine our approaches to describing variation in life on Earth. Combining knowledge and research tools from multiple disciplines is one way to better describe complex natural systems. Understanding plant community diversity requires documenting both pattern and process. We must first know which species exist, and where (i.e., taxonomic and biogeographic patterns), before we can determine why they exist there (i.e., ecological and evolutionary processes). Floristic botanists often use collections-based approaches to elucidate biodiversity patterns, while plant ecologists use hypothesis-driven statistical approaches to describe underlying processes. Because of these different disciplinary histories and research goals, floristic botanists and plant ecologists often remain siloed in their work. Here, using a case study from an urban greenway in Colorado, USA, we illustrate that the collections-based, opportunistic sampling of floristic botanists is highly complementary to the transect- or plot-based sampling of plant ecologists. We found that floristic sampling captured a community species pool four times larger than that captured using ecological transects, with rarefaction and non-parametric species estimation indicating that it would be prohibitive to capture the "true" community species pool if constrained to sampling within transects. We further illustrate that the discrepancy in species pool size between approaches led to a different interpretation of the greenway...

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Community Species Pool
Species Pool
Maintenance Of Species Diversity
Species Pool Size
Plant Ecologists
Urban Greenway
Nearby Gardens
Plant Community Diversity
Plant Species Distributions
Community Scale

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