Relationships between environmental parameters and species composition

Relationships between environmental parameters and species composition pattern and their implications for biodiversity surrogates – a multiple scale study
Rafi Kent and Yohay Carmel

In recent decades there has been a significant decline in global biological diversity largely driven by human activities. In order to bring this decline to a halt, conservation actions must take place to enhance the level of protection provided to elements of biodiversity such as species and ecosystems as well as to ecological processes beyond existing nature reserves. There are several approaches to locating new areas for conservation, all of which are sensitive to variations in spatial scale. This study will try to deal with two main obstacles in that field. One is to quantify the effect of spatial scale on environmental determinants of species composition in a confounded space by using a multivariate gradient analysis technique (CCA). CCA analysis should help to understand how different environmental variables affect species composition in a certain area and at a certain scale. Consequently, I will investigate a new type of surrogate for biodiversity, the Bioenvironmental Surrogate, based on using environmental determinants, weighted according to the CCA results, along with biological information in order to classify an area into bioenvironmental classes, which will be used as surrogates for biodiversity. The concept of hybrid surrogates has been suggested as a means to improving the effectiveness of existing surrogates for biodiversity, yet there are no reports of such surrogates existing.