The measurement of diversity in different types of biological collections

  • Pielou E
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Information content may be used as a measure of the diversity of a many-species biological collection. The diversity of small collections, all of whose members can be identified and counted, is defined by Brillouin's measure of information. With larger collections it becomes necessary to estimate diversity; what is estimated is Shannon's measure of information which is a function of the population proportions of the several species. Different methods of estimation are appropriate for different types of collections. If the collection can be randomly sampled and the total number of species is known, Basharin's formula may be used. With a random sample from a population containing an unknown number of species, Good's method is sometimes applicable. With a patchy population of sessile organisms, such as a plant community, random samples are unobtainable since the contents of a randomly placed quadrat are not a random sample of the parent population. To estimate the diversity of such a community a method is proposed whereby the sample size is progressively increased by addition of new quadrats; as this is done the diversity of the pooled sample increases and then levels off. The mean increment in total diversity that results from enlarging the sample still more then provides an estimate of the diversity per individual in the whole population. © 1966.

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  • E.C. Pielou

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