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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The importance of defining measures of stability in macroecology and biogeography

  • Author(s): McDonald-Spicer, Christiana J.
  • Moritz, Craig C.
  • Ferrier, Simon
  • Rosauer, Dan F.
  • et al.

Stability, the continuity of environments or habitats through space and time, is a widely used concept in macroecology and biogeography and is often invoked in studies attempting to explain the uneven spatial distribution of biodiversity. Stability can be measured in various ways and at various spatiotemporal scales; however, few studies explicitly define their use of the term. This makes interpreting and comparing studies difficult. We suggest an integrated approach to defining measures of stability in macroecology and biogeography. This approach addresses five key challenges concerning the biological, environmental and spatiotemporal scales at which stability is assessed, and how the complexity of change across time and space is summarised into a metric of stability. Using this approach allows for clarity around the choice, conceptualisation, communication and comparison of measures of stability.

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