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A similarity measure sensitive to the contribution of rare species and its use in investigation of variation in marine benthic communities


We propose a new measure of similarity, the normalized expected species shared or NESS. The measure is based on the expected number of species shared between random samples of size, m, drawn from a population. The NESS measure is shown to be a generalization of Morisita's similarity and is demonstrated to be less biased than other commonly used measures. The contribution of dominant and rare species is explicit according to the sample size, m, chosen. For large m, NESS is sensitive to the less common species in the populations to be compared.

The NESS measure has been used to cluster a 2-year sequence of subtidal benthic samples taken after a severe disturbance. The NESS measure is responsive to the less common species so that both a temporal progression in community recovery and seasonal variation are revealed.

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Contribution No. 3699 from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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Grassle, J.F., Smith, W. A similarity measure sensitive to the contribution of rare species and its use in investigation of variation in marine benthic communities. Oecologia 25, 13–22 (1976).

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  • Random Sample
  • Seasonal Variation
  • Similarity Measure
  • Common Species
  • Rare Species