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It has been shown that the variation in taxonomic distinctness has the same desirable sampling properties as average taxonomic distinctness, namely a lack of dependence of its mean value on the sample size.

In the equations, where xj represents the abundance of the ith of s species observed, n ^Px) is the total number of individuals in the sample and xij is the 'distinctness weight' given to the path length linking species i and j in the taxonomy. To estimate taxonomic diversity indices, a hierarchical Linnean classification is used as a proxy for cladograms representing the relatedness of individual species. For each location, a composite taxonomy is compiled and six taxonomic levels are considered (species, genus, family, order, class, and phylum). Generally, these diversity indices are calculated from fauna abundances using PRIMER 5 (Software package from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK).

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