Do modern theories of biodiversity fail to predict commonness and rarity among microbes?
- Subject Areas
- Biodiversity, Ecology, Microbiology
- biodiversity, macroecology, microbial ecology, maxent, zipf, broken-stick, earth microbiome project, human microbiome project, species abundance distribution, mg-rast
- © 2015 Shoemaker et al.
- This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ PrePrints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Cite this article
- 2015. Do modern theories of biodiversity fail to predict commonness and rarity among microbes? PeerJ PrePrints 3:e1450v2 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.1450v2
Theories of biodiversity seek to predict and unify patterns of commonness and rarity. Maximum entropy theory of ecology (METE) is among the most unifying and powerful theories of biodiversity, explaining >90% of variation in abundance among species of plant and animal using the total number of individuals (N0) and number of species. However, METE has yet been tested among the most abundant and diverse organisms on Earth, i.e., microorganisms. Using 20,456 sites of microbial communities, we show that METE only explains 0 to 60% of variation in abundance and increasingly fails for larger N0. In contrast, a more uneven distribution with a maximum entropy solution, the Zipf, often explains >90% of variation among microbes and performs better as N0 increases. Our findings suggest that theories of biodiversity could produce accurate predictions across the tree of life and scales of abundance if they capture how disparities in abundance increase with N0.
We corrected slight inconsistencies in the formatting of references, modified the organization of the title page, and made minor edits for clarity in the main body.