Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 2495–2513 | Cite as

The use of incidence-based species richness estimators, species accumulation curves and similarity measures to appraise ethnobotanical inventories from South Africa

  • Vivienne L. WilliamsEmail author
  • Edward T. F. Witkowski
  • Kevin Balkwill
Original Paper


The incorporation of suitable quantitative methods into ethnobotanical studies enhances the value of the research and the interpretation of the results. Prediction of sample species richness and the use of species accumulation functions have been addressed little in applied ethnobotany. In this paper, incidence-based species richness estimators, species accumulation curves and similarity measures are used to compare and predict species richness, evaluate sampling effort and compare the similarity of species inventories for ethnobotanical data sets derived from the trade in traditional medicine in Johannesburg and Mpumalanga, South Africa. EstimateS was used to compute estimators of species richness (e.g. Jackknife), rarefaction curves, species accumulation curves and complimentarity. Results showed that while the Michaelis–Menten Means estimator appeared to be the best estimator because the curve approached a horizontal asymptote, it was not able to accurately predict species richness for one of the data sets when two of its subsamples were individually tested. Instead, the first-order Jackknife estimator best approximated the known richness.


Traditional medicine trade Quantitative ethnobotany Species accumulation curves Rarefaction Richness estimation Complimentarity Sampling effort EstimateS 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vivienne L. Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Edward T. F. Witkowski
    • 1
  • Kevin Balkwill
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Animal, Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandWitsSouth Africa

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