Ecological Sampling Is Time Sensitive

three birds on tree branch
plants on grid

Species richness is the total number of species in an ecological community. Determining an estimate for species diversity accounts for the number of species present in a region, species concentration and species distribution. However, there are usually biases that are involved biological diversity assessments, which could skew data. One surveying bias comes from species detectability. Species can only be measured if they are detectable, which means that surveys may detect megafauna or large vertebrates much more than it insect species. Not all species are available in the same times of day, during the same seasons or in the same distributions either, which means that researchers have limited windows of time for surveying an ecological community.

Species Richness and Time

In order to maximize species richness, sampling teams have to take measurements when the most species are detectable. Variables include season, weather conditions, time of day, the presence of other species and predators. Some species (especially plants) are more abundant in specific seasons, which gives ecologist a limited window of time to measure those populations. Therefore, sampling during all four seasons, will offer more accurate data than simply sampling during one or two. Sampling populations at differential time windows widens the possibility of encountering novel organisms or novel distributions of previously observed organisms.

The most trustworthy samples are taken over extended periods of time. Samples that taken at varying times tend to offer more data about an community of organisms. Too few samples can give researchers an inaccurate representation of which organisms are present in a region, how they are distributed or how dense their populations are. Temporal variance in data is significant because it allows ecologists to draw inferences about how ecological communities change through time. Over time, representation, representations in a community’s species richness, species distribution and general behavior can change.

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