Author(s): Jost L
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Abstract Existing general definitions of beta diversity often produce a beta with a hidden dependence on alpha. Such a beta cannot be used to compare regions that differ in alpha diversity. To avoid misinterpretation, existing definitions of alpha and beta must be replaced by a definition that partitions diversity into independent alpha and beta components. Such a unique definition is derived here. When these new alpha and beta components are transformed into their numbers equivalents (effective numbers of elements), Whittaker's multiplicative law (alpha x beta = gamma) is necessarily true for all indices. The new beta gives the effective number of distinct communities. The most popular similarity and overlap measures of ecology (Jaccard, Sorensen, Horn, and Morisita-Horn indices) are monotonic transformations of the new beta diversity. Shannon measures follow deductively from this formalism and do not need to be borrowed from information theory; they are shown to be the only standard diversity measures which can be decomposed into meaningful independent alpha and beta components when community weights are unequal.
This article was published in Ecology
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals