Species richness is the total number of species in an ecological community. This involves determining how many species are present in a region and assessing how those species are distributed. However, there are many biases that are involved in any biological diversity assessment. Species can only be measured if they are detectable, which usually means capturing them, filming them or retrieving some environmental DNA. However, not all species are equally as available which means that researchers have limited windows of time for surveying a community of various species.

Species Richness and Time

In order to maximize species richness, sampling teams have to take measurements when the most species are detectable. This takes into account season, weather conditions and time of day. Some species (especially plants) are more abundant in specific seasons, which gives ecologist a limited window of time to measure their populations. Therefore, sampling during all four seasons, will offer more accurate data than simply sampling during one or two. Sampling populations at differential time windows widens the possibility of encountering novel organisms or novel distributions of previously observed organisms.

plants on grid

The most trustworthy samples are taken over extended periods of time. Samples that taken at varying times tend to offer more data about an community of organisms. Too few samples can give researchers an inaccurate representation of which organisms are present in a region, how they are distributed or how dense their populations are. Temporal variance in data is significant because it allows ecologists to draw inferences about how ecological communities change through time. Over time, representation, representations in a community’s species richness, species distribution and general behavior can change.

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