1. In temperate communities, species abundance distributions have been used to detect ecosystem disturbance: in undisturbed habitats, distributions are claimed to generally fit log-normal models, whereas in disturbed habitats, distributions fit log-series models.

2. There is a growing literature on the effects of habitat disturbance in tropical ecosystems and several studies suggest that species abundance models may be useful in detecting disturbance, although data are lacking.

3.Nummelin (1998) claims that these models are not universal indicators of forest disturbance, but we highlight a number of problems with the data presented in Nummelin's study and conclude that it is too soon to dismiss these models. We discuss several important points arising from Nummelin's study which need to be considered if species abundance models are to be used appropriately.