Population Ecology

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 89–100 | Cite as

Unifying and distinguishing diversity ordering methods for comparing communities

  • Canran LiuEmail author
  • Robert J. Whittaker
  • Keping Ma
  • Jay R. Malcolm


Diversity indices have been widely used in ecological research, but they remain problematic in that different indices may rank communities inconsistently. This problem can be solved by using diversity ordering methods, the output of which is a diversity profile in graphical form for each community being compared. In this paper, we demonstrate that existing diversity ordering methods can be classified into four groups and that within-group methods are essentially equivalent, while among-group methods are not. We find that the intrinsic diversity-related methods—i.e., the group containing the right tail-sum method, the logarithmic dominance plot, the majorization method, and the k-dominance plot—provide the most stringent test of diversity ordering, and we recommend the right tail-sum method as the method of preference for practical purposes.


Diversity indices Diversity profile Intrinsic diversity Right tail-sum method Species-abundance distributions 



This work was partly funded by the 973 Project (G2000046802) from China. C. Liu is supported by University of New England Vice Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellowship. This paper has benefitted considerably from suggestions offered by R. K. Colwell, M. O. Hill, B. Tóthmérész, and M. Williamson.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Canran Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert J. Whittaker
    • 2
  • Keping Ma
    • 3
  • Jay R. Malcolm
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Ecosystem Management, School of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources ManagementUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  2. 2.Biodiversity Research Group, School of Geography, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Laboratory of Quantitative Vegetation Ecology, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Faculty of ForestryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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