Artifacts and artifictions in biodiversity research


The biodiversity crisis demands that scientists be careful in their application of quantitative methods. However misuse of biodiversity statistics can lead to trivial but real patterns (artifacts) or to false patterns (artifictions). While misuses such as biases in taxonomic ratios, standardization by dividing by area or individuals, and the rarefaction effect have been repeatedly recognized in the literature, they continue to appear regularly in the scientific literature. Here, we illustrate (using data from North American floras and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma, USA) examples of how artifacts and artifictions can lead to misinterpretation of biodiversity patterns. We urge biogeographers and ecologists to be vigilant when using biodiversity statistics, to avoid false interpretations.

Folia Geobotanica, 43:245-257