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Community Ecology

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 11–16 | Cite as

Quantifying functional diversity with graph-theoretical measures: advantages and pitfalls

  • C. RicottaEmail author
  • M. Moretti
Open Access
Article

Abstract

Recently, a number of measures of functional diversity have been proposed for data on species presences and absences. One of the most fashionable methods uses cluster analysis of species computed from a matrix of functional characters. Functional diversity is then summarized as the sum of branch lengths of the dendrogram (FDD). Like other graph-theoretical measures of functional diversity, FDD is an increasing function of species richness. This makes FDD inadequate for comparative studies if we want to quantify a component of functional diversity that is not directly related to differences in species counts. The aim of this paper is thus to develop a graph-theoretical measure of functional diversity that does not depend of species richness. The edges of the minimum spanning tree, calculated from the pair-wise inter-species dissimilarity matrix based on functional traits, are ranked and then a power law relationship is established with the cumulative distances. We empirically demonstrate that the exponent of this relationship is independent of species richness and is therefore a suitable measure of functional diversity.

Keywords

Clustering Minimum spanning tree Pair-wise species distances 

Abbreviations

FDD

Functional Diversity based on Dendrograms

FDM

Functional Diversity based on Minimum spanning trees

MST

Minimum Spanning Tree

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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2008

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Swiss Federal Research Institute WSLResearch Unit Ecosystem BoundariesBellinzonaSwitzerland

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