Shapes and functions of species–area curves (II): a review of new models and parameterizations


*Even Tjørve, Lillehammer University College, PO Box 952, 2604 Lillehammer, Norway. E-mail:


This paper has extended and updated my earlier list and analysis of candidate models used in theoretical modelling and empirical examination of species–area relationships (SARs). I have also reviewed trivariate models that can be applied to include a second independent variable (in addition to area) and discussed extensively the justifications for fitting curves to SARs and the choice of model. There is also a summary of the characteristics of several new candidate models, especially extended power models, logarithmic models and parameterizations of the negative-exponential family and the logistic family. I have, moreover, examined the characteristics and shapes of trivariate linear, logarithmic and power models, including combination variables and interaction terms. The choice of models according to best fit may conflict with problems of non-normality or heteroscedasticity. The need to compare parameter estimates between data sets should also affect model choice. With few data points and large scatter, models with few parameters are often preferable. With narrow-scale windows, even inflexible models such as the power model and the logarithmic model may produce good fits, whereas with wider-scale windows where inflexible models do not fit well, more flexible models such as the second persistence (P2) model and the cumulative Weibull distribution may be preferable. When extrapolations and expected shapes are important, one should consider models with expected shapes, e.g. the power model for sample area curves and the P2 model for isolate curves. The choice of trivariate models poses special challenges, which one can more effectively evaluate by inspecting graphical plots.