Utility of binary data for analyzing structure in island communities



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Texas Tech University


Archipelagoes with structured island communities were generated using computer simulation. Abundance data matrices were then coded to form binary data matrices with binary divisions of 0 (co-occurrence), n/8, n/4, n/2, 3n/4, and 7n/8; where n is the average total number of individuals per island in the archipelago. Matrices were analyzed for community structure using a variance test, for which there are analogous tests for abundance and binary data. Co-occurrence data did not yield test results similar to those for abundance data, whereas some of the "rare/common" data sets did yield similar test results.

Additionally, in many cases, the opposite conclusion was reached when using co-occurrence data rather than abundance data. It is recommended that when binary data are collected for community structure analysis, some measure of species abundance (e.g., above/below average) is considered, not simply species presence or absence.