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Ecology. 2007 May;88(5):1322-7.

Relationships between species richness, evenness, and abundance in a southwestern savanna.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0334, USA.


Species richness and evenness are components of biological diversity that may or may not be correlated with one another and with patterns of species abundance. We compared these attributes among flowering plants, grasshoppers, butterflies, lizards, summer birds, winter birds, and rodents across 48 plots in the grasslands and mesquite-oak savannas of southeastern Arizona. Species richness and evenness were uncorrelated or weakly negatively correlated for each taxonomic group, supporting the conclusion that richness alone is an incomplete measure of diversity. In each case, richness was positively correlated with one or more measures of abundance. By contrast, evenness usually was negatively correlated with the abundance variables, reflecting the fact that plots with high evenness generally were those where all species present were about equally uncommon. Therefore richness, but not evenness, usually was a positive predictor of places of conservation value, if these are defined as places where species of interest are especially abundant. Species diversity was more positively correlated with evenness than with richness among grasshoppers and flowering plants, in contrast to the other taxonomic groups, and the positive correlations between richness and abundance were comparatively weak for grasshoppers and plants as well. Both of these differences can be attributed to the fact that assemblages of plants and grasshoppers were numerically dominated by small subsets of common species (grasses and certain spur-throated grasshoppers) whose abundances differed greatly among plots in ways unrelated to species richness of the groups as a whole.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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