, Volume 167, Issue 4, pp 889–892 | Cite as

Commentary: Do we have a consistent terminology for species diversity? Back to basics and toward a unifying framework

  • Claudia E. Moreno
  • Pilar Rodríguez
Views and Comments


After decades of misusing the term diversity in community ecology, over the last 5 years some papers have offered important advances toward developing a more rigorous mathematical background, which allows us to achieve more clarity in the terminology for the vast range of biological phenomena that have been placed under the umbrella of this term. Some points have been clearly stated in previous papers of this Views and Comments section, and new terms have even been proposed for specific cases, but other issues, such as the need for the prefix true have not been discussed. Our aim is to clarify some of the terms and concepts, the proper use of which appears still to remain unclear, and to provide biologists with a simplified version of the general framework resulting from recent contributions, with an emphasis on identifying points of consensus in the field. We also comment on the possibility of extending the basics of this general framework to other facets of the broad term biodiversity, such as functional or phylogenetic diversity.


Alpha diversity Beta diversity Gamma diversity Species richness Species turnover 



CEM thanks colleagues and students for spending time in fruitful discussions about species diversity, and Bianca Delfosse for improving the English. This contribution is a result of projects 95828 FOMIX CONACYT–HIDALGO and 84127 SEP–CONACYT Basic Science. We declare that our study complies with the current laws of Mexico, and that no experiments were performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas Universidad Autónoma del Estado de HidalgoPachucaMexico
  2. 2.Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la BiodiversidadMexicoMexico

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