Measuring & mapping biological uniqueness can show similarities & differences in species composition within a defined region. The ABMI has developed a relative uniqueness index for each Natural Region in Alberta which identifies the degree to which species composition in a 1-km² grid cell is distinct compared to other grid cells within the Natural Region.
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The Relative Uniqueness Index
The relative uniqueness index shows the degree to which species composition in each grid cell (pixel) is distinct compared to all other pixels within the Natural Region. The uniqueness analysis was conducted separately for each Natural Region because the regional species pool, and the species' predicted relative abundances, differ among them.
Relative abundance of each species in each grid cell was predicted using habitat association models that relate species abundance to native habitat types. The uniqueness index was calculated based on species co-occurrence (see the Species Manual).
Uniqueness of species composition in space is a relative measure and values estimated for specific sites are partly dependent on the scale of study. For example, a given area might not be unique relative to other areas immediately nearby, but it (and its nearby areas) might be highly unique when compared to a larger scale of study.
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