Measuring diversity: the importance of species similarity


Venue   Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, St Andrews, 1 February 2012. Joint event with National Centre for Statistical Ecology.

Abstract   (Joint work with Christina Cobbold)

There have been decades of debate about how best to measure biodiversity. Dozens of measures have been proposed. The situation had seemed forbiddingly complicated until quite recently, when work of Jost and others cut a straight-line path through the tangle of proposed measures. I will begin by explaining this new, conceptually clear, understanding of diversity measurement. (No previous knowledge of the subject will be assumed.) I will emphasize the role of diversity profiles, a useful graphical device for comparing one ecological community with another.

But there is still a problem. Most existing diversity measures are completely insensitive to the varying similarities between species, contrary to the common perception of diversity as the "variety of life". I will show how to repair this defect, and I will demonstrate with examples that taking inter-species similarity into account can make a real difference to the assessment of biodiversity.

Reference   Tom Leinster, Christina Cobbold, Measuring diversity: the importance of species similarity. Ecology 93 (2012), 477–489.

Slides   In this pdf file.

This page was last changed on 23 April 2012. You can read an extremely short introduction to Beamer, or go home.