Population Ecology

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 351–359 | Cite as

A frequency distribution approach to hotspot identification

  • Valerio Bartolino
  • Luigi Maiorano
  • Francesco Colloca
Original Article


We present a new global method for the identification of hotspots in conservation and ecology. The method is based on the identification of spatial structure properties through cumulative relative frequency distributions curves, and is tested with two case studies, the identification of fish density hotspots and terrestrial vertebrate species diversity hotspots. Results from the frequency distribution method are compared with those from standard techniques among local, partially local and global methods. Our approach offers the main advantage to be independent from the selection of any threshold, neighborhood, or other parameter that affect most of the currently available methods for hotspot analysis. The two case studies show how such elements of arbitrariness of the traditional methods influence both size and location of the identified hotspots, and how this new global method can be used for a more objective selection of hotspots.


Cumulative frequency distribution Density Diversity Spatial clustering Tangent 



We especially thank Nathan M. Bacheler for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers for a useful discussion.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerio Bartolino
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luigi Maiorano
    • 1
    • 3
  • Francesco Colloca
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Human BiologySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Marine Research InstituteSwedish Board of FisheriesLysekilSweden
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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