Patterns of Dominance

Across all types of realms and habitat types, the number of individuals and the total amount of biomass are almost inevitably dominated by one or few species, whereas most species are rare. However, the proportion of numbers or of biomass made up by the most dominant species differs strongly even in closely related assemblages or spatially adjacent communities (Figure 1). Published dominance ratios range from 0.2 to almost 1 for abundance as well as biomass. The proportion contributed by the three most dominant species consistently exceeds 50% and very often 75%. The degree of dominance differs highly with the exact way dominance is measured, but also across spatial and temporal gradients. In order to understand the mechanisms driving dominance within communities and in regional scales, it is important to identify some of this variation in dominance ratios.

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