Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Erica F. Stuber

Second Advisor

Joseph J. Fontaine

Third Advisor

Sabrina Russo

Date of this Version

Fall 12-2018


Mirochnitchenko, Nadejda, A. "Relationships Among Biodiversity Dimensions of Birds in Nebraska" (2018) MS Thesis, School of Natural Resources. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln. 2018.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professors Erica F. Stuber and Joseph J. Fontaine. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2018

Copyright (c) 2018 Nadejda Anatolievna Mirochnitchenko


Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is a multi-dimensional concept that can be decomposed to measure information about taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional variation within communities. Although the dimensions of biodiversity are interrelated, the assumption that measuring one dimension of diversity can inform about patterns in another dimension does not necessarily follow from theory or empirical study. The relationships among biodiversity dimensions is not well understood, nor how differences among dimensions could influence conservation decision making. Using the avian community as a study system, we explored the relationships of breadth metrics from the taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional dimensions among each other and across six gradients of land cover in Nebraska, USA. We found that all three metrics had a high between-sites correlation, yet the within-site correlation was weaker and even slightly negative, which suggests that these metrics could be used as adequate surrogates for one another broadly, yet they would generally be poor predictors locally. We also found substantial differences in spatial scale selection among the diversity metrics, which suggests that these metrics are being influences by different ecological and evolutionary processes. Within each metric’s selected spatial scale, land cover relationships were generally similar, yet projected differences in the relationships across land cover resulted in spatial mismatches, often of substantial magnitude. Differences among diversity metrics may help identify drivers of biodiversity patterns and predict community assembly. Furthermore, the taxonomic metric showed relative insensitivity compared to the phylogenetic and functional metric, suggesting managing for high taxonomic diversity offers a simple and strategic conservation opportunity to preserve phylogenetic and functional diversity as well. Once conservation areas are selected, holistic or intensively managed conservation approaches are recommended.

Advisors: Erica F. Stuber and Joseph J. Fontaine