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Scientists disagree about the nature of biodiversity change. While there is evidence for widespread declines from population surveys, assemblage surveys reveal a mix of declines and increases. These conflicting conclusions may be caused by the use of different metrics: assemblage metrics may average out drastic changes in individual populations. Alternatively, differences may arise from data sources: populations monitored individually, versus whole-assemblage monitoring. To test these hypotheses, we estimated population change metrics using assemblage data. For a set of 23 241 populations, 16 009 species, in 158 assemblages, we detected significantly accelerating extinction and colonisation rates, with both rates being approximately balanced. Most populations (85%) did not show significant trends in abundance, and those that did were balanced between winners (8%) and losers (7%). Thus, population metrics estimated with assemblage data are commensurate with assemblage metrics and reveal sustained and increasing species turnover.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-854
Number of pages8
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number5
Early online date15 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2019


  • Anthropogenic
  • Biodiversity
  • Colonisation
  • Extinction
  • Population change


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