Methods for fitting dominance/diversity curves



Abstract. Dominance/diversity curves, displaying the relative abundances of the species within a community, have often been constructed from field data. Several ecological and statistical models of dominance/diversity have been proposed, to explain the curves. Yet, rarely have curves of different models been fitted to field data.

In this paper the appropriate parameters and methods of curve fitting for plant communities are described for the General Lognormal, Canonical Lognormal, Geometric, Broken Stick, Zipf and Zipf-Mandelbrot models. Distinction is made between fixed and optimised parameters, to clarify para-meterisation of the models. It is concluded that all should be fitted by minimising the deviance in a ranked-abundance plot.

Statistical tests of goodness of fit are discussed. It is concluded that consistency of fit between replicate quadrats of a community provide the best test.

Curves of all the models discussed are fitted to data from a species-rich Spanish hay meadow, and to data from a New Zealand intertidal algal community. The Spanish meadow data are best fitted by General Lognormal. The New Zealand algal data are best fitted by Geometric or General Lognormal. Goodness of fit for a sample is usually relatively good or poor for all models, since much of the deviance comes from steps in the curve which none of the models can fit closely.