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Levels of endemism are not necessarily biased by the co-presence of species with different range sizes: a case study of Vilenkin and Chikatunov's models

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Abstract Aim 

To illustrate problems in the methods proposed by B. Vilenkin and V. Chikatunov to study levels of endemism and species–area relationships. Location 

The study used data on the distribution of tenebrionid beetles (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) on the Aegean Islands (Greece). Methods 

A total of 32 islands and 170 taxa (species and subspecies) were included in this study. Levels of endemism were evaluated both as the proportion of endemic taxa, and according to the methods proposed by Vilenkin and Chikatunov, which are based on the number of non-endemic taxa and various relationships with area. A model of the species–area relationship proposed by these authors was also analysed. Results 

The number of endemic taxa was positively correlated with the number of taxa with different distribution types, but this positive correlation did not influence the estimation of the level of endemism. In fact, the commonly used estimate of endemicity as a percentage was strongly correlated with the endemism values calculated according to the method of Vilenkin and Chikatunov. The usual power function fitted the species–area relationship as well as the most complicated method of Vilenkin and Chikatunov. Main conclusions 

As hypothesized by Vilenkin and Chikatunov, the number of endemic taxa was influenced both by the number of taxa of other biogeographical ranks, and by an island's area. However, explanations for the positive relationship between the number of endemic taxa and taxa of different biogeographical ranks are equivocal. Importantly, this relationship did not necessarily influence the level of endemism, which could be expressed adequately by percentages. The method proposed by Vilenkin and Chikatunov to estimate the species–area relationship cannot be clearly justified on theoretical grounds and is of questionable practical utility.
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Keywords: Aegean Islands; Coleoptera Tenebrionidae; Greece; conservation biology; island biogeography; levels of endemism; species ranges; species–area relationships

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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