Estimating the number of species shared by incompletely sampled communities

Yi Zou*, Jan Christoph Axmacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


There are numerous ways to estimate the true number of species in a community based on incomplete samples. Nonetheless, comparable approaches to estimate the number of species shared between two incompletely sampled communities are scarce. Here, we introduce the ‘total expected species shared' (TESS) measure and provide the R function for its calculation. Based on parametric asymptotic models, TESS provides estimates of the true number of species shared between incompletely sampled communities based on abundance data. We compare TESS results with abundance-based non-parametric methods in terms of precision and accuracy, using different simulated sampling scenarios. We further calculate TESS using an empirical dataset, highlighting changes in accuracy and precision with increasing sample size. We also demonstrate how TESS values can be combined with species richness estimators in turnover estimates using traditional β-diversity indices. Our results show that mean values of TESS reliably approximate the true shared species number for varying sample completeness scenarios, with both accuracy and precision increasing with increasing sample completeness. Overall, we demonstrate the viability of TESS in estimations of the true number of species shared between two incompletely sampled communities. We also stress the importance of a sufficient sample size for the accuracy of estimates – requiring sampling designs that carefully balance sampling effort per site with the number of sampling sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1108
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • ACE-shared
  • Chao1-shared
  • TESS
  • sample size
  • under-sampling
  • β-diversity

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