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.
Biodiversity hotspots have been used extensively in setting conservation priorities for reef ecosystems. A recent Nature publication claims to have uncovered new hotspots based on global comparisons of functional diversity. Simulation models show that the purported novel evenness pattern is a mathematical inevitability of differences in species richness, as well as an artefact of differences in detectability between vastly different marine ecosystems. Constraints on evenness, along with disparity among communities in possible functional traits, cast doubt on the utility of global functional diversity comparisons for management of marine systems.
This is also a submission currently published by Marine Policy (September 2014 print version).
Supplemental Information 1
Evenness as a function of species richness for communities with a classic ‘hollow curve’ species abundance distribution (SAD; sampled here from a lognormal distribution with mean = 0.01), across a range of individuals counted. Histogram inset shows an example of the sampled SAD; R.A. is relative abundance.