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A consistent terminology for quantifying species diversity?


There is a genuine need for consensus on a clear terminology in the study of species diversity given that the nature of the components of diversity is the subject of an ongoing debate and may be the key to understanding changes in ecosystem processes. A recent and thought-provoking paper (Jurasinski et al. Oecologia 159:15–26, 2009) draws attention to the lack of precision with which the terms alpha, beta, and gamma diversity are used and proposes three new terms in their place. While this valuable effort may improve our understanding of the different facets of species diversity, it still leaves us far from achieving a consistent terminology. As such, the conceptual contribution of these authors is limited and does little to elucidate the facets of species diversity. It is, however, a good starting point for an in-depth review of the available concepts and methods.

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We thank many friends for spending a great deal of time with us in fruitful discussions about species diversity, and Bianca Delfosse for improving the English. This paper is a result of projects 95828 FOMIX CONACYT–HIDALGO and 84127 SEP-CONACYT Basic Science.

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Correspondence to Pilar Rodríguez.

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Communicated by Roland Brandl.

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Moreno, C.E., Rodríguez, P. A consistent terminology for quantifying species diversity?. Oecologia 163, 279–282 (2010).

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  • Alpha diversity
  • Beta diversity
  • Gamma diversity
  • Species richness
  • Turnover