The merits of neutral theory

D. Alonso, R.S. Etienne, A.J. McKane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

262 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hubbell's neutral theory of biodiversity has challenged the classic niche-based view of ecological community structure. Although there have been many attempts to falsify Hubbell's theory, we argue that falsification should not lead to rejection, because there is more to the theory than neutrality alone. Much of the criticism has focused on the neutrality assumption without full appreciation of other relevant aspects of the theory. Here, we emphasize that neutral theory is also a stochastic theory, a sampling theory and a dispersal-limited theory. These important additional features should be retained in future theoretical developments of community ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-457
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords

  • species abundance distributions
  • community structure
  • sampling theory
  • lognormal-distribution
  • stochastic-theory
  • tropical forests
  • null hypothesis
  • beta-diversity
  • biodiversity
  • model

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