Strona, G., Fattorini, S., Montano, S., Seveso, D., Galli, P., San-Miguel-Ayanz, J. (2015) ECo: a new measure evaluating the degree of consistency between environmental factors and spatial arrangement of species assemblages.Ecological Indicators, 38, 256–261. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.11.033 (IF2015 3,190; Q1 Environmental Sciences)
We introduce a measure of Environmental Consistency (ECo), which assesses the probability of reducing homogeneity in the environmental factors within a species’ distribution by randomly displacing its occurrences. ECo is computed by applying null model analysis to a species incidence matrix where each locality is associated with a set of environmental values. Environmental homogeneity is measured, for each species, as the average multiparametric distance between any pair of localities where the species occurs. ECo can account for the effect of species interactions and resource availability by using different null models that permit or forbid occurrence displacements altering species local abundance or species prevalence. ECo provides researchers with a flexible statistical framework to address a wide range of ecological and biogeographical issues. We investigated in depth the properties and the potentialities of ECo, showing how it integrates the concepts of Eltonian and Grinnelian niches. We demonstrate that a close relationship exists between niche breadth at species level and environmental consistency of species assemblages. In addition, we provide evidence that ecological consistency is closely related to species range. A software to compute ECo is freely available at http://forest.jrc.ec.europa.eu/download/software/eco.