Effect of species richness and relative abundance on the shape of the species accumulation curve
Faculty of Business and Public Management
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
We explain how species accumulation curves are influenced by species richness (total number of species), relative abundance and diversity using computer-generated simulations. Species richness defines the boundary of the horizontal asymptote value for a species accumulation curve, and the shape of the curve is influenced by both relative abundance and diversity. Simulations with a high proportion of rare species and a few abundant species have a species accumulation curve with a low ‘shoulder’ (inflection point on the ordinate axis) and a long upward slope to the asymptote. Simulations with a high proportion of relatively abundant species have a steeply rising initial slope to the species accumulation curve and plateau early. Diversity (as measured by Simpson's and Shannon–Weaver indices) for simulations is positively correlated with the initial slope of the species accumulation curve. Species accumulation curves cross when one simulation has a high proportion of both rare and abundant species compared with another that has a more even distribution of abundance among species.