20 Citations (Scopus)


β‐diversity (variation in community composition) is a fundamental component of biodiversity, with implications for macroecology, community ecology and conservation. However, its scaling properties are poorly understood. Here, we systematically assessed the spatial scaling of β‐diversity using 12 empirical large‐scale datasets including different taxonomic groups, by examining two conceptual types of β‐diversity and explicitly considering the turnover and nestedness components. We found highly consistent patterns across datasets. Multiple‐site β‐diversity (i.e. variation across multiple sites) scaling curves were remarkably consistent, with β‐diversity decreasing with sampled area according to a power law. For pairwise dissimilarities, the rates of increase of dissimilarity with geographic distance remained largely constant across scales, while grain size (or scale level) had a stronger effect on overall dissimilarity. In both analyses, turnover was the main contributor to β‐diversity, following total β‐diversity patterns closely, while the nestedness component was largely insensitive to scale changes. Our results highlight the importance of integrating both inter‐ and intraspecific aggregation patterns across spatial scales, which underpin substantial differences in community structure from local to regional scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1023
Issue number5
Early online date25 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Species composition
  • Dissimilarity
  • Diversity partitioning
  • Scale dependence
  • Spatial grain


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