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Local and regional rarity in a diverse tropical fish assemblage

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Abstract

Because most species in an ecological assemblage are rare, much of the species richness we value is due to taxa with few individuals or a restricted distribution. It has been apparent since the time of ecological pioneers such as Bates and Darwin that tropical systems have disproportionately large numbers of rare species, yet the distribution and abundance patterns of these species remain largely unknown. Here, we examine the diversity of freshwater fish in a series of lakes in the Amazonian várzea, and relate relative abundance, both as numbers of individuals and as biomass, to the occurrence of species in space and time. We find a bimodal relationship of occurrence that distinguishes temporally and spatially persistent species from those that are infrequent in both space and time. Logistic regression reveals that information on occurrence helps distinguish those species that are rare in this locality but abundant elsewhere, from those that are rare throughout the region. These results form a link between different approaches used to evaluate commonness and rarity. In doing so, they provide a tool for identifying species of high conservation priority in poorly documented but species rich localities.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number20122076
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume280
Issue number1751
Early online date28 Nov 2012
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

    Research areas

  • Species abundance distribution, Occurrence, Várzea, Freshwater fish, Rare biosphere, Amazon

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