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Multiple modes in a coral species abundance distribution

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Author(s)

Maria Dornelas, Sean R. Connolly

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Species abundance distributions are an important measure of biodiversity and community structure. These distributions are affected by sampling, and alternative species-abundance models often make similar predictions for small sample sizes. Very large samples reveal the relative abundances of rare species, and thus provide information about species relative abundances that small samples cannot. Here, we present the species-abundance distribution for a sample of > 40 000 coral colonies at a single site, exceeding existing samples of coral local assemblages by over an order of magnitude. This abundance distribution is multimodal when examined on a logarithmic scale. Four different model selection procedures all indicate that the underlying community abundance distribution has at least three modes. We show that the multiple modes are not caused by mixtures of species with different habitat preferences. However, spatial aggregation partially explains our results. We inspect published work on species abundance distributions, and suggest that multimodality may be a common feature of large samples.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1008-1016
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Volume11
Issue number10
Early online date8 Jul 2008
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008

    Research areas

  • biodiversity, community structure, coral reefs, lognormal, neutral theory, canonical distribution, population, commonness, diversity, patterns, scales, rarity

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