Unified neutral theory of biodiversity

Theory and the title of a monograph by ecologist Stephen P. Hubbell.

- Unified neutral theory of biodiversity

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E. O. Wilson

American biologist, naturalist, and writer.

Wilson in 2003
Wilson at a "fireside chat" during which he received the Addison Emery Verrill Medal in 2007
Wilson addresses the audience at the dedication of the Biophilia Center named for him at Nokuse Plantation in Walton County, Florida.

Among his contributions to ecological theory is the theory of island biogeography (developed in collaboration with the mathematical ecologist Robert MacArthur), which served as the foundation of the field of conservation area design, as well as the unified neutral theory of biodiversity of Stephen P. Hubbell.

Stephen P. Hubbell

American ecologist on the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Biodiversity of a coral reef. Corals adapt to and modify their environment by forming calcium carbonate skeletons. This provides growing conditions for future generations and forms a habitat for many other species.

He is author of the unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography (UNTB), which seeks to explain the diversity and relative abundance of species in ecological communities not by niche differences but by stochastic processes (random walk) among ecologically equivalent species.

Martingale (probability theory)

Sequence of random variables for which, at a particular time, the conditional expectation of the next value in the sequence is equal to the present value, regardless of all prior values.

Stopped Brownian motion is an example of a martingale. It can model an even coin-toss betting game with the possibility of bankruptcy.
Software-created martingale series.

In an ecological community (a group of species that are in a particular trophic level, competing for similar resources in a local area), the number of individuals of any particular species of fixed size is a function of (discrete) time, and may be viewed as a sequence of random variables. This sequence is a martingale under the unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography.

Chinese restaurant process

Discrete-time stochastic process, analogous to seating customers at tables in a Chinese restaurant.

The Poisson distribution, a discrete probability distribution.

These processes have been used in many applications, including modeling text, clustering biological microarray data, biodiversity modelling, and image reconstruction

Multifractal system

Generalization of a fractal system in which a single exponent is not enough to describe its dynamics; instead, a continuous spectrum of exponents (the so-called singularity spectrum) is needed.

A Strange attractor that exhibits multifractal scaling
Example of a multifractal electronic eigenstate at the Anderson localization transition in a system with 1367631 atoms.
Multifractal analysis is analogous to viewing a dataset through a series of distorting lenses to home in on differences in scaling. The pattern shown is a Hénon map.

An equivalent representation of relative species abundances are species ranks, used to generate a surface called the species-rank surface, which can be analyzed using generalized dimensions to detect different ecological mechanisms like the ones observed in the neutral theory of biodiversity, metacommunity dynamics, or niche theory.

Community (ecology)

Group or association of populations of two or more different species occupying the same geographical area at the same time, also known as a biocoenosis, biotic community, biological community, ecological community, or life assemblage.

A bear with a salmon. Interspecific interactions such as predation are a key aspect of community ecology.
a) A trophic pyramid showing the different trophic levels in a community. b) A food web of the same community
A simple trophic cascade diagram. On the right shows when wolves are absent, showing an increase in elks and reduction in vegetation growth. The left one shows when wolves are present and controlling the elk population.
Table visualising size-symmetric competition, using fish as consumers and crabs as resources.
A generalised graph of a predator-prey population density cycle

Stephen P. Hubbell introduced the neutral theory of ecology.

Assembly rules

Community assembly rules are a set of controversial rules in ecology, first proposed by Jared Diamond.

Biodiversity of a coral reef. Corals adapt to and modify their environment by forming calcium carbonate skeletons. This provides growing conditions for future generations and forms a habitat for many other species.

and ) and contributed to the development of null and neutral models in community ecology, which are nowadays widely used to test the significance of ecological patterns.

Metacommunity

Set of interacting communities which are linked by the dispersal of multiple, potentially interacting species.

Biodiversity of a coral reef. Corals adapt to and modify their environment by forming calcium carbonate skeletons. This provides growing conditions for future generations and forms a habitat for many other species.

These are the patch dynamics, species sorting, source–sink dynamics (or mass effect) and neutral model frameworks.

Blindness in animals

Important role in the animal kingdom, most importantly for the identification of food sources and avoidance of predators.

A mole.
One-eyed cat

This is called the unified neutral theory of biodiversity.

Wild fisheries

Natural body of water with a sizeable free-ranging fish or other aquatic animal population that can be harvested for its commercial value.

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Septic river.
Polluted lagoon.
Effect of eutrophication on marine benthic life

For a systematic treatment of biodiversity within a trophic level, see unified neutral theory of biodiversity.