Recent decades have seen a remarkable increase in the number of studies examining biodiversity in nature. Beta diversity—the turnover of community composition in space and time—has received particular attention. Here, I discuss recent findings in spatial and temporal turnover along abiotic and biotic gradients at two different extents. Turnover in space and time seem to exhibit similar scale dependency along latitudinal gradients; turnover is faster in the tropics at narrow study extents, but the pattern is reversed at broad extents as turnover accelerates nearer to the poles. Moreover, organisms at high trophic positions have higher turnover rates in space at broad study extents than do organisms at low trophic positions, but trophic position does not affect temporal turnover rates. Future studies that simultaneously examine variation in community composition in space, time, and along environmental gradients would shed more light on the mechanistic basis of community organization.
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Vol. 60 • No. 6