The merits of neutral theory

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

262 Citations (Scopus)


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
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The merits of neutral theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this