The main objective of the project is to identify factors shaping biodiversity as they pertain to the general species-area relationship patterns (SPARs), through the meta-analysis of the largest database (about 800-1000 data sets) so far used for this purpose. The meta-analysis will be conducted with state-of-the-art statistical analyses such as model selection criteria and structural equation modelling. Our goal is to successfully identify and cope with all the issues related to SPAR, in an effort towards a deeper understanding of this ecological regularity.
The main questions addressed in the project are: Is there a general best-fit model for all types of SPAR? Is there a unique theoretical basis for the SPAR? What is the effect of scale and system configuration on the form of SPARs? Do the parameters of particular models have any biological and ecological meaning? Which is the role of other parameters, besides area, in shaping species diversity, and how do they interfere at various geographical scales? Is there a Small Island Effect, and what is the best method to detect it? How can we use the insights gained by SPAR analyses in conservation biology? Such a synthesis is of premium importance for a proper understanding and, thus, effective conservation and protection of biodiversity at all scales.
The originality of the present proposal relies in the fact that for the first time the aspects related to the SPAR will be studied simultaneously, and not fragmentarily. The questions raised from the present proposal are part of the scientific core of disciplines related to the study of nature, such as biogeography, ecology, macro-ecology, evolutionary ecology, and conservation biology and conservation biogeography. Hence, the project fits within the thematic priority of Environment and Geosciences (ENV) of FP6 and the thematic areas of Ecology and Evolution (incl. Population Biology) and Biodiversity and Conservation.
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