A key conservation goal is to maintain biodiversity - but it is hard to quantify. We research biodiversity measures and how they change in space and time. The equation in the mural (dL1 = ...) is used to describe changes in species composition in a community over time which is referred to as turnover.
The British breeding bird communities, represented in the mural by the great spotted woodpecker, robin and blue tit, have shown changes in recent decades, in response to climate change, changes in land use and management, and other changes in the environment. At St Andrews, we have developed methods for quantifying these temporal changes, and how they vary spatially, through biodiversity measures. Some measures allow us to assess whether the biodiversity of a community is increasing or decreasing, and whether the rate of change is accelerating or slowing down. Other measures allow us to quantify turnover - the rate at which some species are being replaced by others, as occurs for example when generalist species increase at the expense of specialist species.
Yuan, Y., Buckland, S.T., Harrison, P.J., Foss, S. and Johnston, A. 2016. Using species proportions to quantify turnover in biodiversity. Journal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Statistics 21, 363-381.
Studeny, A.C., Buckland, S.T., Harrison, P.J., Illian, J.B., Magurran, A.E. and Newson, S.E. 2013. Fine-tuning the assessment of large-scale temporal trends in biodiversity using the example of British breeding birds. J. App. Ecol. 50, 190-198.
Studeny, A.C., Buckland, S.T., Illian, J.B., Johnston, A. and Magurran, A.E. 2011. Goodness-of-fit measures of evenness: a new tool for exploring changes in community structure. Ecosphere 2(2), Article 15. doi:10.1890/ES10-00074.1.
Magurran, A.E., Baillie, S.R., Buckland, S.T., Dick, J. McP., Elston, D.A., Scott, E.M., Smith, R.I., Somerfield, P.J. and Watt, A. 2010. Long-term data sets in biodiversity research and monitoring: assessing change in ecological communities through time. TREE 25, 574-582.