Maria completed her Ph.D. in 2006 on neutral theory and biodiversity patterns of reef corals, under the supervision of Sean Connolly and Terry Hughes. She moved to Scotland to take up her first postdoctoral fellowship in Anne Magurran’s lab at the University of St Andrews. Maria came back to Australia to join the ARC CoE of Coral Reef Studies last February.
Species abundance distributions summarize the patterns of species rarity and commonness in ecological communities, and are the biodiversity pattern most often used to test biodiversity models. However, the abundances of rare species require large samples to be confidently estimated. In this seminar I will present the species abundance distribution for a sample of >40,000 coral colonies from a single bay in Lizard Island. This exceeds existing samples of coral assemblages by over an order of magnitude. Although species abundance distributions are widely accepted to follow a lognormal distribution, these data have a multimodal distribution, and are best fitted by a mixture of three lognormal distributions. Several types of heterogeneities within the community are explored, but only differences among species spatial distributions are linked to multimodality.