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Fuzzy quantification of common and rare species in ecological communities (FuzzyQ)

Abstract : Most species in ecological communities are rare, whereas only a few are common. This distributional paradox has intrigued ecologists for decades but the interpretation of species abundance distributions remains elusive. We present Fuzzy Quantification of Common and Rare Species in Ecological Communities (FuzzyQ) as an R package. FuzzyQ shifts the focus from the prevailing species-categorization approach to develop a quantitative framework that seeks to place each species along a rarity-commonness gradient. Given a community surveyed over a number of sites, quadrats, or any other convenient sampling unit, FuzzyQ uses a fuzzy clustering algorithm that estimates a probability for each species to be common or rare based on abundance-occupancy information. Such a probability can be interpreted as a commonness index ranging from 0 to 1. FuzzyQ also provides community-level metrics about the coherence of the allocation of species into the common and rare clusters that are informative of the nature of the community under study. The functionality of FuzzyQ is shown with two real datasets. We demonstrate how FuzzyQ can effectively be used to monitor and model spatiotemporal changes in species commonness, and assess the impact of species introductions on ecological communities. We also show that the approach works satisfactorily with a wide range of communities varying in species richness, dispersion and abundance currencies. FuzzyQ produces ecological indicators easy to measure and interpret that can give both clear, actionable insights into the nature of ecological communities and provides a powerful way to monitor environmental change on ecosystems. Comparison among communities is greatly facilitated by the fact that the method is relatively independent of the number of sites or sampling units considered. Thus, we consider FuzzyQ as a potentially valuable analytical tool in community ecology and conservation biology.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03188037
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 1, 2021 - 3:59:18 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - 3:44:39 PM

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Juan Balbuena, Clara Monlleó‐borrull, Cristina Llopis‐belenguer, Isabel Blasco‐costa, Volodimir Sarabeev, et al.. Fuzzy quantification of common and rare species in ecological communities (FuzzyQ). Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Wiley, 2021, ⟨10.1111/2041-210X.13588⟩. ⟨hal-03188037⟩

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