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Relative Abundance of Species and MacArthur's Model

Charles E. King
Ecology
Vol. 45, No. 4 (Oct., 1964), pp. 716-727
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/1934919
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1934919
Page Count: 12
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Relative Abundance of Species and MacArthur's Model
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Abstract

MacAthur's model was derived to predict the relative abundance of species in adequately sampled sympatric associations in which niches are contiguous and nonoverlapping, the species are comparable in size and physiology and are maintained in equilibrium so that relative abundances are constant. The model is applicable only to homogeneously diverse biotopes in which the range of the environmental mosaic is small in relation to the requirements of the inhabitant species. These factors require that the niche arrangement be the outcome of competitive exclusion. Data are presented on the adequacy of the MacArthur model in describing the relative abundance of fish, ophiuroids, gastropods, pagurid crabs, and ciliates. In addition, summaries of previously reported tests are included. By comparing groups which are adequately and inadequately described by the MacArthur model, it is possible to examine the characteristics which may establish the equilibrium. It is hypothesized that characteristics of importance are length of life cycle, duration and frequency of reproduction, and relative (to generation time) constancy of environmental conditions. It is shown that when fish or gastropod species are tested, the goodness-of-fit to the model's predictions is related to the taxonomic affinity of the group being tested. Stable associations of species with high taxonomic affinity must be highly organized. A high degree of organization is required to maintain the random distribution of abundances. Density dependent competition for food is the most likely bases of this organization.

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