194 pages | 1 Color Illus. | 42 B/W Illus.
Stochastic Communities presents a theory of biodiversity by analyzing the distribution of abundances among species in the context of a community. The basis of this theory is a distribution called the "J distribution." This distribution is a pure hyperbola and mathematically implied by the "stochastic species hypothesis" assigning equal probabilities of birth and death within the population of each species over varying periods of time. The J distribution in natural communities has strong empirical support resulting from a meta-study and strong theoretical support from a theorem that is mathematically implied by the stochastic species hypothesis.
"The science of ecology suffers from a disconnect between theory and direct observation. Mathematicians have thought that simple equations could explain ecology. Field ecologists have assumed the mathematicians are right. Thus, empirical ecological understanding and prediction have suffered. Dewdney is an exceptions; he does field work and he is a mathematician. In his wonderful book, he takes advantage of both parts of ecology. And if Dewdney has done his math right, this book opens a whole new door to understanding biodiversity and its myriad causes."
- Daniel Botkin, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and President of the Center for the Study of the Environment
"… development of a theory and guide to sampling, … it will be of great interest to both empirical and theoretical ecologists."
- Trends in Ecology and Evolution
The J-curve and the J distribution. The J-distribution and its variations. Sampling in practice and in theory. Compiling and analysing field data. Predictions from data. Extending the sample. Stochastic systems and the stochastic community. The metastudy: A review. Fossil J-curves. Summary of theory and open problems. Appendix A: Mathematical Notes and Computer Tools. Appendix B: Results of the metastudy for the J distribution. Appendix C: Results of the test for the J distribution in taxonomic data.