Detecting the small island effect and nestedness of herpetofauna of the West Indies



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To detect the small island effect (SIE) and nestedness patterns of herpetofauna of the West Indies, we derived and updated data on the presence/absence of herpetofauna in this region from recently published reviews. We applied regression-based analyses, including linear regression and piecewise regressions with two and three segments, to detect the SIE and then used the Akaike's information criterion (AIC) as a criterion to select the best model. We used the NODF (a nestedness metric based on overlap and decreasing fill) to quantify nestedness and employed two null models to determine significance. Moreover, a random sampling effort was made to infer about the degree of nestedness at portions of the entire community. We found piecewise regression with three segments performed best, suggesting the species–area relationships possess three different patterns that resulted from two area thresholds: a first one, delimiting the SIE, and a second one, delimiting evolutionary processes. We also found that taxa with lower resource requirement, higher dispersal ability, and stronger adaptation to the environment generally displayed lower corresponding threshold values, indicating superior taxonomic groups could earlier end the SIE period and start in situ speciation as the increase of island size. Moreover, the traditional two-segment piecewise regression method may cause poor estimations for both slope and threshold value of the SIE. Therefore, we suggest previous SIE detection works that conducted by two-segment piecewise regression method, ignoring the possibility of three segments, need to be reanalyzed. Antinestedness occurred in the entire system, whereas high degree of nestedness could still occur in portions within the region. Nestedness may still be applicable to conservation planning at portions even if it is antinested at the regional scale. However, nestedness may not be applicable to conservation planning at the regional scale even if nestedness does exist among sampling islands from a portion.


© 2016 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. cc-by


Herpetofauna, nestedness, nonlinear regression, small island effect, threshold value, West Indies


Gao, D., & Perry, G.. 2016. Detecting the small island effect and nestedness of herpetofauna of the West Indies. Ecology and Evolution, 6(15).