by Vincent Fugère and Katrine Turgeon
Variation in species composition across sites is known as beta diversity. This important dimension of biodiversity, which links local-scale (alpha) diversity to regional (gamma) diversity, is increasingly recognized as a key factor influencing metacommunity functioning and as an important target for conservation action. Beta diversity can also be measured over time, indicating species turnover in community composition within sites and providing a convenient measure of community stability. Although beta diversity indices have been available since Whittaker’s seminal monograph in 1960, there has been many recent methodological developments to improve the quantification of beta diversity, including novel tools to investigate the long-standing problem of partitioning beta diversity into community nestedness and species replacement/turnover. This workshop will explore these tools and describe common methods to measure temporal and spatial beta diversity (Local/Species contribution to beta diversity, PERMDISP on incidence and abundance-based dissimilarity indices, and beta diversity decomposition). By doing so, we also hope to illustrate how beta diversity analyses can refine our understanding of human impacts on ecological communities.