OLM 11.6. Bestiary of species-abundance distributions
Applying species-abundance distributions in the description of community structure has a long tradition (Fisher et al. 1943; Preston 1948). We have seen a new surge of interest in them after the turn of the millennium, because the key prediction of Hubbel’s neutral theory regards species-abundance distributions and, indeed, the distributions observed do not significantly differ from the ones predicted by the theory. We have shown in Ch11Finit that this is not proof for the neutral theory, but a corollary of the fact that species-abundance distributions are weak statistical tests (McGill 2003). Note 11.1 has briefly introduced the species-abundance distributions touched upon in the book, but the literature has several different distributions as well. This OLM aims at reviewing the distributions used for modelling species-abundance patterns, the relations between them, and some of their mathematically correct applications.