, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 334–336 | Cite as

The meaning and measurement of size hierarchies in plant populations

  • Jacob Weiner
  • Otto T. Solbrig
Original Papers


The term “size hierarchy” has been used frequently by plant population biologists but it has not been defined. Positive skewness of the size distribution, which has been used to evaluate size hierarchies, is inappropriate. We suggest that size hierarchy is equivalent to size inequality. Methods developed by economists to evaluate inequalities in wealth and income, the Lorenz curve and Gini Coefficient, provide a useful quantification of inequality and allow us to compare populations. A measure of inequality such as the Gini Coefficient will usually be more appropriate than a measure of skewness for addressing questions concerning plant population structure.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob Weiner
    • 1
  • Otto T. Solbrig
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologySwarthmore CollegeSwarthmoreUSA
  2. 2.Gray HerbariumHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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