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Data from: A unified model explains commonness and rarity on coral reefs

Cite this dataset

Connolly, Sean R.; Hughes, Terence P.; Bellwood, David R.; Hughes, Terry P. (2018). Data from: A unified model explains commonness and rarity on coral reefs [Dataset]. Dryad.


Abundance patterns in ecological communities have important implications for biodiversity maintenance and ecosystem functioning. However, ecological theory has been largely unsuccessful at capturing multiple macroecological abundance patterns simultaneously. Here, we propose a parsimonious model that unifies widespread ecological relationships involving local aggregation, species-abundance distributions, and species associations, and we test this model against the metacommunity structure of reef-building corals and coral reef fishes across the western and central Pacific. For both corals and fishes, the unified model simultaneously captures extremely well local species-abundance distributions, interspecific variation in the strength of spatial aggregation, patterns of community similarity, species accumulation, and regional species richness, performing far better than alternative models also examined here and in previous work on coral reefs. Our approach contributes to the development of synthetic theory for large-scale patterns of community structure in nature, and to addressing ongoing challenges in biodiversity conservation at macroecological scales.

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central and western tropical Pacific