RE: NANFA-L-- Diversity Indicies

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (Jan.J.Hoover at
Thu, 29 Sep 2005 16:20:38 -0500

> Some other ecologists, like Hurlbert as mentioned by Bruce, have
> questioned whether "diversity" has any meaning whatsoever.

"Diversity" like other terms in ecology, originally had a very useful
generic meaning that unfortunately has been replaced by a less useful,
specific interpretation. It once referred to the amount of taxonomic variety
in a system; now it is often interpreted as an aggregate measure of richness
and evenness (i.e., heterogenity), or even a specific method of calculating
the measure (e.g., Shannon function). In a sense, it has become jargon.

I have not read Hurlbert's "non-concept" paper in a couple of deacades now,
but I do not think he was questioning the concept of diversity as variety (or
uncertainty, or information) but rather the concept of diversity as a
dimensionless, unitless value.

- Jan Hoover
Vicksburg, MS
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