, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 279-295

Introduction of Relative Abundance Distribution (RAD) Indices, Estimated from the Rank-Frequency Diagrams (RFD), to Assess Changes in Community Diversity

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Abstract

Quantifying a relative abundance distribution based on thesampling of a set of species is a widespread problem in ecology.A number of diversity indices have been proposed and used in numerous works in spite of a lack of statistical characteristics and tests of comparison. The relative abundancedistribution can also be described using rank-frequency diagrams but fitting these diagrams to mathematical models such as the Zipf-Mandelbrot model remains problematic. Strong correlation between the Zipf-Mandelbrot model parameters prevent their estimation by optimization algorithm. In light of this, new indices of sampled communities are introduced here. These indices are two linear regression slopes estimated from rank-frequency diagrams. The numerous statistical studies that have been carried out on linear regression models are used to compare sampled communities. These new indices possesscharacteristic properties with an ecological meaning.Correlations between these indices, the Zipf-Mandelbrot modelparameters and an evenness diversity index are examined. Anecological application is made using entomological data as anexample. This example consists of a transect from the edge of apond to a dry forest along which 60,000 insects were sampledfrom six different sampling stations. Using the new indicesdescribed here, station C, located at the edge of that areasubject to influence from the pond, is differentiated from theother stations. This station would seem to present the lowestdegree of niche diversity and the lowest evenness, and recent observations confirm the deterioration of this station.