Using species abundance models as indicators of habitat disturbance in tropical forests.
In temperate communities, species abundance distributions have been used to detect ecosystem disturbance: in undisturbed habitats, distributions are claimed to generally fit log-normal models, whereas in disturbed habitats, distributions fit log-series models. There is a growing literature on the effects of habitat disturbance in tropical ecosystems and several studies suggest that species abundance models may be useful in detecting disturbance. Nummelin [Journal of Applied Ecology (1998) 35, 454-457] claims that these models are not universal indicators of forest disturbance. Possible problems with the data presented in Nummelin's study are discussed, and it is concluded that it is too soon to dismiss these models. Several important points arising from Nummelin's study which need to be considered if species abundance models are to be used appropriately are discussed.