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Simpson's Diversity Index

Simpson's Diversity Index is a measure of diversity. In ecology, it is often used to quantify the biodiversity of a habitat. It takes into account the number of species present, as well as the abundance of each species. Before looking at Simpson's Diversity Index in more detail, it is important to understand the basic concepts outlined below.

Biological Diversity - the great variety of life


Biological diversity can be quantified in many different ways. The two main factors taken into account when measuring diversity are richness and evenness. 1. Richness Richness is a measure of the number of different kinds of organisms present in a particular area. For example, species richness is the total number of different species present in a community. Some communities may be simple enough to allow complete species counts to determine species richness. However, this is often impossible, especially when dealing with insects and other invertebrates, in which case some form of sampling has to be used to estimate species richness. 2. Evenness Evenness is a measure of the relative abundance of the different species making up the richness of

an area. To give an example, we might have sampled two different fields for wildflowers. The sample from the first field consists of 300 daisies, 335 dandelions and 365 buttercups. The sample from the second field comprises 20 daisies, 49 dandelions and 931 buttercups (see the table below). Both samples have the same number of species (3) and the same total number of individuals (1000). However, the first sample has more evenness than the second. This is because the total number of individuals in the sample is quite evenly distributed between the three species. In the second sample, most of the individuals are buttercups, with only a few daisies and dandelions present. Sample 2 is therefore considered to be less diverse than sample 1. Numbers of individuals Sample 1 Sample 2 300 20 335 49 365 931 1000 1000

Flower Species Daisy Dandelion Buttercup Total

A community dominated by one or two species is considered to be less diverse than one in which several different species have a similar abundance.
As species richness and evenness increase, so diversity increases. Simpson's Diversity Index is a measure of diversity which takes into account both richness and evenness. Simpson's Diversity Indices The term 'Simpson's Diversity Index' can actually refer to any one of 3 closely related indices. Simpson's Index (D) measures the probability that two individuals randomly selected from a sample will belong to the same species (or some category other than species). There are two versions of the formula for calculating D. Strictly speaking, the first formula (1) should only be used to estimate an infinite population. The second version (2) is an adaptation of the formula to estimate a finite population. However, with a large sample there is practically no difference between these equations. Either is acceptable, but be consistent.

1.

D=

(n / N)2 2.

n = the total number of organisms of a particular species N = the total number of organisms of all species

The value of D ranges between 0 and 1 With this index, 0 represents infinite diversity and 1, no diversity. That is, the bigger the value of D, the lower the diversity. This is neither intuitive nor logical, so to get over this problem, D is often subtracted from 1 to give: Simpson's Index of Diversity 1 - D The value of this index also ranges between 0 and almost 1, but now, the greater the value, the greater the sample diversity. This makes more sense. In this case, the index represents the probability that two individuals randomly selected from a sample will belong to different species. Another way of overcoming the problem of the counter-intuitive nature of Simpson's Index is to take the reciprocal of the Index: Simpson's Reciprocal Index 1 / D The value of this index starts with 1 as the lowest possible figure. This figure would represent a community containing only one species. The higher the value, the greater the diversity. The maximum value is the number of species (or other category being used) in the sample. For example if there are five species in the sample, then the maximum value is 5. The name 'Simpson's Diversity Index' is often very loosely applied and all three related indices described above (Simpson's Index, Simpson's Index of Diversity and Simpson's Reciprocal Index) have been quoted under this blanket term, depending on author. It is therefore important to ascertain which index has actually been used in any comparative studies of diversity.

To calculate Simpson's Index for a particular area, the area must first be sampled. The number of individuals of each species present in the samples must be noted. (This can be easier said than done! more here) For example, the diversity of the ground flora in a woodland, might be tested by sampling random quadrats. The number of plant species within each quadrat, as well as the number of individuals of each species is noted. There is no necessity to be able to identify all the species, provided they can be distinguished from each other.

As an example, let us work out the value of D for a single quadrat sample of ground vegetation in a woodland. Of course, sampling only one quadrat would not give you a reliable estimate of the diversity of the ground flora in the wood. Several samples would have to be taken and the data

pooled to give a better estimate of overall diversity. Species Woodrush Holly (seedlings) Bramble Yorkshire Fog Sedge Total (N) n(n-1) Number (n) 2 8 1 1 3 15
.

n(n-1) 2 56 0 0 6
.

64

Putting the figures into the formula for Simpson's Index

D = 0.3 (Simpson's Index)


Then:

Simpson's Index of Diversity 1 - D = 0.7

Simpson's Reciprocal Index 1 / D = 3.3


These 3 different values all represent the same biodiversity. It is therefore important to ascertain which index has actually been used in any comparative studies of diversity. A value of Simpson's Index of 0.7, is not the same as a value of 0.7 for Simpson's Index of Diversity. Simpson's Index gives more weight to the more abundant species in a sample. The addition of rare species to a sample causes only small changes in the value of D.

Further Reading
Hill, M.O. (1973) Diversity and evenness: a unifying notation and its consequences. Ecology 54: 427432 Krebs, C.J. (1989) Ecological Methodology. Harper and Row, Publishers. New York. 654pp. Peet, R.K. (1974) The measurement of species diversity. Annual Rev. Ecol. Syst. 5:285-307 Pielou, E.C. (1969) An Introduction to Mathematical Ecology. Wiley, New York. 286pp. Simpson, E.H. (1949) Measurement of diversity. Nature 163:688 Southwood, T.R.E. (1978) Ecological Methods. University Printing House, Cambridge. 524pp. Washington, H.G. (1984) Diversity, biotic and similarity indices: a review with special relevance to aquatic ecosystems. Water Research 18:653-694

Name_________________________________________ Period_____ Date_____________ Calculating Biodiversity The diversity of species present in an ecosystem can be used as one gauge of the health of an ecosystem, but how can we measure the biodiversity of en ecosystem? One way is to use a biodiversity index, a mathematical formula that takes into account species richness and species evenness. Species richness refers to the number of different species present in an ecosystem, while species evenness measures the relative abundance of the various species. In this activity we will use the Simpson Index to compare the species diversity (different makes of cars) of two ecosystems (parking lots). The formula for Simpsons Index is:

Simpsons Index of Diversity


n = the total number of organisms of a particular species N = the total number of organisms of all species

1D

Simpsons Reciprocal Index 1/D

The value of D ranges between 0 and 1, with 0 being the most diverse and 1 the least diverse. Since this is counterintuitive, you can use Simpsons Index of Diversity, 1 D, or Simpsons Reciprocal Index, 1/D. For this activity use Simpsons Index is of diversity.. Before you do the survey:
Predict which parking lot (faculty or student) you expect to be most diverse and explain why.

Your Prediction_________________________________________________________ Procedure:


1. Organize your team so that you collect your data as quickly as possible. Count at least 30 cars in each lot. 2. Calculate the total number of different species for each parking lot. 3. Calculate the Simpson Diversity Index for both the faculty lot and the student lot.

Questions:
1. Identify the parking lot that was the most diverse. Based on your observations during the lab,

explain why your prediction was supported or not supported.

2. List the single most abundant species in each set of data. Why might this species be the most

abundant?

3. If you conducted this survey at a mall parking lot, would the Diversity Index be high or low?

4. Determine the maximum and minimum values for the Simpson Diversity Index in the parking

lot you surveyed.

5. If you conducted this lab at a new car dealership, predict whether the Simpson Diversity

Index would be high or low, and how it would compare to the school parking lots?

Data Table Faculty Lot Species Number (n) n(n-1)

TOTAL (N)

Data Table Faculty Lot Species Number (n) n(n-1)

TOTAL (N) Data Table Student Lot

Species

Number (n)

n(n-1)

TOTAL (N) Data Table Student Lot

Species

Number (n)

n(n-1)

TOTAL (N)