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Controversy over the decline of arthropods: a matter of temporal baseline?
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François Duchenne, Emmanuelle Porcher, Jean-Baptiste Mihoub, Grégoire Loïs, Colin Fontaine
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<p style="text-align: justify;">Recently, a number of studies have reported somewhat contradictory patterns of temporal trends in arthropod abundance, from decline to increase. Arthropods often exhibit non-monotonous variation in abundance over time, making it important to account for temporal coverage in interpretation of abundance trends, which is often overlooked in statistical analysis. Combining four recently analysed datasets that led to contrasting outcomes, we first show that temporal abundance variations of arthropods are non-monotonous. Using simulations, we show non-monotony is likely to bias estimated linear abundance trends. Finally, analysing empirical data, we show that heterogeneity in estimated abundance trends is significantly related to the variation in temporal baseline of analysed time series. Once differences in baseline years, habitats and continents are accounted for, we do not find any statistical difference in estimated linear abundance trends among the four datasets. We also show that short time series produce more stochastic abundance trends than long series, making the dearth of old and long-term time series a strong limitation in the assessment of temporal trends in arthropod abundance. The lack of time series with a baseline year before global change acceleration is likely to lead to an underestimation of global change effects on biodiversity.</p>
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insect; population trends; shifting baseline syndrome; temporal trends; time series; abundance
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