The humpbacked species richness-curve: A contingent rule for community ecology

International Journal of Ecology
By:  and 



Functional relationships involving species richness may be unimodal, monotonically increasing, monotonically decreasing, bimodal, multimodal, U-shaped, or with no discernable pattern. The unimodal relationships are the most interesting because they suggest dynamic, nonequilibrium community processes. For that reason, they are also contentious. In this paper, we provide a wide-ranging review of the literature on unimodal (humpbacked) species richness-relationships. Though not as widespread as previously thought, unimodal patterns of species richness are often associated with disturbance, predation and herbivory, productivity, spatial heterogeneity, environmental gradients, time, and latitude. These unimodal patterns are contingent on organism and environment; we examine unimodal species richness-curves involving plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, plankton, and microbes in marine, lacustrine, and terrestrial habitats. A goal of future research is to understand the contingent patterns and the complex, interacting processes that generate them.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The humpbacked species richness-curve: A contingent rule for community ecology
Series title International Journal of Ecology
DOI 10.1155/2011/868426
Volume 2011
Issue 868426
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title International Journal of Ecology
Country United States
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