Influence of Environmental Heterogeneity on the Species Composition, Species Richness and Species Abundances Unevenness in Reef-associated Conus Communities (Neogastropoda) from Papua New-Guinea

Main Article Content

Jean Béguinot


To what extent differences in species composition, species richness and species abundance unevenness between marine communities are attributable to heterogeneities of the surrounding environment and/or to inter-community distance is a fundamental issue to be addressed, in order to more deeply understand the functioning of marine ecosystems. A comparison between six reef-associated Conus communities, differing more or less in both their surrounding environment and their mutual geographical distance, offers a relevant opportunity to address these questions.

As expected, environmental heterogeneities prove having a significant influence on the dissimilarity in species composition, whereas distance-decay in similarity reveals comparatively negligible, at least within the investigated range of distances, up to 60 km. Less expectedly, more homogeneous surrounding environments between communities tend, here, to increase the dissimilarity in species richness. At last, here, difference in species abundance unevenness between communities seems unrelated to either environmental heterogeneity or inter-community distance.

From a methodological point of view, these results could not have been reliably established without the prior implementation of a least-biased procedure of numerical extrapolation applied to the available incomplete samplings. Also, the relevant assessment of dissimilarity in species composition required using a modified Jaccard index, rendered insensitive to bias-induced differences in communities species richness.

Numerical extrapolation, incomplete sampling, diversity, evenness, Jaccard index, distance decay of similarity, neutral theory of biodiversity

Article Details

How to Cite
Béguinot, J. (2019). Influence of Environmental Heterogeneity on the Species Composition, Species Richness and Species Abundances Unevenness in Reef-associated Conus Communities (Neogastropoda) from Papua New-Guinea. Asian Journal of Environment & Ecology, 10(3), 1-21.
Original Research Article


Duda TF, Kohn AJ, Palumbi SR. Origins of diverse feeding ecologies within Conus, a genus of venomous marine gastropods. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 2001;73:391–409.

Béguinot J. A renewed understanding of shell-shape diversity among marine gastropod species: Invariances and covariances between geometrical parameters in conispirally coiled shells. Annual Research & Review in Biology. 2017;13(2):1-17.
DOI: 10.9734/ARRB/2017/33935;

Kohn AJ. Environmental complexity and species diversity in the Gastropod genus Conus on Indo-west Pacific reef platforms. The American Naturalist. 1967;101:251-259.

Kohn AJ. Microhabitat factors affecting abundance and diversity of Conus on coral reefs. Oecologia. 1983;60:293-301.

Muttenhaller M, Dutertre S, Aini JW, Walton H, Alewood PF, Lewis RJ. Abundance and diversity of Conus species (Gastropoda: Conidae) at the northern tip of New Ireland province of Papua New Guinea. The Nautilus. 2012; 47-56.

Willis A. Rarefaction, alpha diversity and statistics. BioRxiv; 2017.
DOI: 10.1101/231878.

Rumohr H, Karakassis I, Jensen JN. Estimating species richness, abundance and diversity with 70 macrobenthic replicates in the Western Baltic Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 2001; 214:103-110.

Fontaine B, Bouchet P et al. The European union’s 2010 target : Putting rare species in focus. Biodiversity and Conservation. 2007;139:167-185.

Flöder S, Jaschinski S, Wells G, Burns CW. Dominance and compensatory growth in phytoplankton communities under salinity stress. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 2010;395: 223-231.

Bracken M, Low N. Realistic losses of rare species disproportionately impact higher trophic levels. Ecology Letters. 2012;15: 461-467.

Mouillot D, Bellwood DR, Baraloto C, Chave J, Galzin R, Harmelin-Vivien M, Kulbicki M, Lavergne S, Lavorel S, Mouquet N, Paine CET, Renaud J, Thuiller W. Rare species support vulnerable functions in high-diversity ecosystems. PLoS Biol. 2013;11(5):e1001569.

Jain M, Flynn DFB, Prager CM, Hart GM, DeVan CM, Ahrestani FS, Palmer MI, Bunker DE, Knops JHM, Jouseau CF, Naeem S. The importance of rare species: a trait-based assessment of rare species contribution to functional diversity and possible ecosystem function in tall-grass prairies. Ecology and Evolution. 2014;4(1):104-112.

Ignatiades L, Gotsis-Skretas O. The contribution of rare species to coastal phytoplankton assemblages. Marine Ecology. 2014;35:132-145.

Low-Decarie E, Kolber M, Homme P, Lofano A, Dumbrell A, Gonzalez A, Bell G. Community rescue in experimental communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 2015; 112(46):14307-14312.

Leitao RP, Zuanon J, Villéger S, Williams SE, Baraloto C, Fortunel C, Mendonça FP & Mouillot D. Rare species contribute disproportionately to the functional structure of species assemblages. Proceedings of The Royal Society B. 2016; 283:0084.
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0084

Violle C, Thuillier W, Mouquet N, Munoz F, Kraft NJB, Cadotte MW, Livingstone SW, Mouillot D. Functional rarity: The ecology of outliers. Trends in Ecology; 2017.
DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2017.02.002

Cao Y, Williams DD, Williams NE. How important are rare species in aquatic community ecology and bioassessment? Limnology and Oceanography. 1998; 43(7):1403-1409.

Bellier E, Grotan V, Engen S, Schartau AK, Diserud OH, Finstad AG. Combining counts and incidence data: An efficient approach for estimating the log-normal species abundance distribution and diversity indices. Oecologia; 2012.
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-012-2311-2.

Cam E, Nichols JD, Sauer JR, Hines JE. On the estimation of species richness based on the accumulation of previously unrecorded species. Ecography. 2002;25: 102-108.

Rajakaruna H, Drake DAR, Chan FT, Bailey SA. Optimizing performance of nonparametric species richness estimators under constrained sampling. Ecology and Evolution. 2016;6:7311-7322.

Connolly SR, Hughes TP, Bellwood DR. A unified model explains commonness and rarity on coral reefs. Ecology Letters. 2017; 20:477-486.

Chen Y, Shen TJ. Rarefaction and extrapolation of species richness using an area-based Fisher’s logseries. Ecology and Evolution. 2017;7:10066-10078.

Kery M, Royle JA. Inference about species richness and community structure using species-specific occupancy models in the National Swiss Breeding Bird survey MUB. Proceedings of the 2007 EURING Technical Meeting and Workshop, Dunedin, New Zealand; 2007.

May RM. Patterns of species abundance and diversity. In Cody M.L. & Diamond J.M. Ecology and Evolution of Communities. The Belknap Press of Harvard University. 1975;81-120.

McGill BJ, Etienne RS, Gray JS et al. Species abundance distributions: moving beyond single prediction theories to integration within an ecological framework. Ecology Letters. 2007;10:995-1015.

Ulrich W, Ollik M, Ugland KI. A meta-analysis of species-abundance distributions. Oikos. 2010;119:1149-1155.

Komonen A, Elo M. Ecological response hides behind the species abundance distribution: Community response to low-intensity disturbance in managed grasslands. Ecology and Evolution. 2017; 7:8558-8566.

Wang X, Ellwood F, AI D, Zhang R, Wang G. Species abundance distributions as a proxy for the niche-neutrality continuum. Journal of Plant Ecology. 2017;rtx 013.

Béguinot J. Theoretical derivation of a bias-reduced expression for the extrapolation of the Species Accumulation Curve and the associated estimation of total species richness. Advances in Research. 2016;7(3):1-16.
DOI: 10.9734/AIR/2016/26387 ;

Béguinot J. Extrapolation of the species accumulation curve associated to “Chao” estimator of the number of unrecorded species: A mathematically consistent derivation. Annual Research & Review in Biology. 2016;11(4):1-19.
DOI: 10.9734/ARRB/2016/30522;

Chao A, Hsieh T, Chazdon RL, Colwell RK, Gotelli NJ. Unveiling the species-rank abundance distribution by generalizing the Good-Turing sample coverage theory. Ecology. 2015;96(5):1189-1201.

Béguinot J. How to extrapolate Species Abundance Distributions with minimum bias when dealing with incomplete species inventories. Advances in Research. 2018; 13(4):1-24.
DOI: 10.9734/AIR/2018/39002.

Béguinot J. Numerical extrapolation of the species abundance distribution unveils the true species richness and the hierarchical structuring of a partially sampled marine gastropod community in the Andaman Islands (India). Asian Journal of Environment and Ecology. 2018;6(4):1– 23.
DOI: 10.9734/AJEE/2018/41293

Heip CHR, Herman PMJ, Soetaert K. Indices of diversity and evenness. Océanis. 1998;24(4):61-87.

Strong WL. Assessing species abundance unevenness within and between plant communities. Community Ecology. 2002; 3(2):237-246.
DOI: 10.1556/COMEC.3.2002.2.9

Grzès IM. Ant species richness and evenness increase along a metal pollution gradient in the Boleslaw zinc smelter area. Pedobiologia. 2009;53:65-73.

Loreau M. Species abundance patterns and the structure of ground-beetle communities. Ann. Zool. Fennici. 1992;28: 49-56.

Magurran AE, Henderson PA. Explaining the excess of rare species in natural species abundance distributions. Nature. 2003;422:714-716.

Connolly SR, Hughes TP, Bellwood DR, Karlson RH. Community structure of corals and reef fishes at multiple scales. Science. 2005;309:1363-1365.