Species–energy relationships and habitat complexity in bird communities


* E-mail: hurlbert@unm.edu


Species–energy theory is a commonly invoked theory predicting a positive relationship between species richness and available energy. The More Individuals Hypothesis (MIH) attempts to explain this pattern, and assumes that areas with greater food resources support more individuals, and that communities with more individuals include more species. Using a large dataset for North American birds, I tested these predictions of the MIH, and also examined the effect of habitat complexity on community structure. I found qualitative support for the relationships predicted by the MIH, however, the MIH alone was inadequate for fully explaining richness patterns. Communities in more productive sites had more individuals, but they also had more even relative abundance distributions such that a given number of individuals yielded a greater number of species. Richness and evenness were also higher in structurally complex forests compared to structurally more simple grasslands when controlling for available energy.