The neutral theory of biodiversity with random fission speciation

Rampal S. Etienne*, Bart Haegeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

The neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography emphasizes the importance of dispersal and speciation to macro-ecological diversity patterns. While the influence of dispersal has been studied quite extensively, the effect of speciation has not received much attention, even though it was already claimed at an early stage of neutral theory development that the mode of speciation would leave a signature on metacommunity structure. Here, we derive analytical expressions for the distribution of abundances according to the neutral model with recruitment (i.e., dispersal and establishment) limitation and random fission speciation which seems to be a more realistic description of (allopatric) speciation than the point mutation mode of speciation mostly used in neutral models. We find that the two modes of speciation behave qualitatively differently except when recruitment is strongly limited. Fitting the model to six large tropical tree data sets, we show that it performs worse than the original neutral model with point mutation speciation but yields more realistic predictions for speciation rates, species longevities, and rare species. Interestingly, we find that the metacommunity abundance distribution under random fission is identical to the broken-stick abundance distribution and thus provides a dynamical explanation for this grand old lady of abundance distributions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-109
Number of pages23
JournalTheoretical ecology
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2011

Keywords

  • Sampling formula
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Fundamental biodiversity number
  • RELATIVE SPECIES ABUNDANCE
  • ZERO-SUM ASSUMPTION
  • DISPERSAL-LIMITATION
  • MULTIPLE SAMPLES
  • CANONICAL DISTRIBUTION
  • COMMUNITY STRUCTURE
  • TROPICAL FORESTS
  • MODEL PARAMETERS
  • DIVERSITY
  • ECOLOGY

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