The term “rare in space and time” is often used to typify the spatial and temporal patterns of occurrence of heterobranch sea slugs. However, “rare” in this context has not been clearly defined. In an attempt to provide more insight into the concept of rarity in sea slug assemblages, we analysed abundance data from 209 individual surveys conducted over a 5-year period in a subtropical estuary and a 7-year period on a shallow coastal reef, on the Sunshine Coast, Qld, Australia. Using an ‘intuitive’ method (<10 individuals recorded over the study), and the ‘quartile’ method we assessed numerical rarity (number of individuals of a species seen over the study period) and temporal rarity (frequency of observation). We also assessed numerical rarity using octaves based on log2
abundance bins. The quartile method did not effectively capture either measure of rarity. The octave method, however, fitted closely to subjective classifications of abundance and defined a similar number of species as rare when compared to the intuitive method. Using the octave method, 66% of species in both the estuary and on the reef, were considered as rare. Consequently, we recommend the octave method to allocate abundance classifications. To address the poor fit for temporal classifications based on quartiles, we propose the following as a working model for wider testing: rare ≤25% of surveys; uncommon 26−50%, common 51−75%; and abundant >75%.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited