Uniting Two General Patterns in the Distribution of Species

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Science  17 Jan 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5298, pp. 397-400
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5298.397

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Two patterns in the distribution of species have become firmly but independently established in ecology: the species-area curve, which describes how rapidly the number of species increases with area, and the positive relation between species' geographical distribution and average local abundance. There is no generally agreed explanation of either pattern, but for both the two main hypotheses are essentially the same: divergence of species along the ecological specialist-generalist continuum and colonization- extinction dynamics. A model is described that merges the two mechanisms, predicts both patterns, and thereby shows how the two general, but formerly disconnected, patterns are interrelated.

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