Date of this Version
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2010) 365, 3633–3643
Understanding species richness patterns represents one of the most fundamental problems in ecology. Most research in this area has focused on spatial gradients of species richness, with a smaller area of emphasis dedicated to understanding the temporal dynamics of richness. However, few attempts have been made to understand the linkages between the spatial and temporal patterns related to richness. Here, we argue that spatial and temporal richness patterns and the processes that drive them are inherently linked, and that our understanding of richness will be substantially improved by considering them simultaneously. The species–time–area relationship provides a case in point: successful description of the empirical spatio-temporal pattern led to a rapid development and testing of new theories. Other areas of research on species richness could also benefit from an explicitly spatio-temporal approach, and we suggest future directions for understanding the processes common to these two traditionally isolated fields of research.