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Science. 2005 Sep 9;309(5741):1722-5.

Neutral ecological theory reveals isolation and rapid speciation in a biodiversity hot spot.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, 75 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


South Africa's Mediterranean-climate fynbos shrubland is a hot spot of species diversity, but its diversity patterns contrast strongly with other high-diversity areas, including the Amazon rain forest. With its extremely high levels of endemism and species turnover, fynbos is made up of dissimilar local communities that are species-rich but relatively poor in rare species. Using neutral ecological theory, we show that the relative species-abundance distributions in fynbos can be explained by migration rates that are two orders of magnitude lower than they are in tropical rain forests. Speciation rates, which are indexed by the "biodiversity parameter" Theta, are estimated to be higher than they are in any previously examined plant system.

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