Combinatorial functional diversity: An information theoretical approach

J. Podani, C. Ricotta, J. G. Pausas, D. Schmera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


A new approach to the measurement of functional diversity based on two-state nominal traits is developed from the florula diversity concept of P. Juhász-Nagy. For evaluating functional diversity of an assemblage, first a traits by species matrix is compiled. Various information theory functions are used to examine structural properties in this matrix, including the frequency distribution of trait combinations. The method is illustrated by actual examples, the first from plant communities prone to fire in Spain, and the second from running water invertebrate assemblages in Hungary. The results suggest that of the various functions used the standardized joint entropy, termed combinatorial functional evenness supplies most meaningful results. In plant communities, high fire recurrence decreased combinatorial functional evenness, while this measure for freshwater assemblages was uncorrelated with stream width and negatively correlated with the degree of human impact. Stream width is negatively correlated with the number of manifested functional combinations. In both case studies, combinatorial functional evenness has an inverse relationship to species richness - i.e., fewer species have a larger chance to produce equiprobable functional combinations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-188
Number of pages9
JournalCommunity Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Evenness
  • Fire
  • Functional traits
  • Invertebrates
  • Species richness
  • Vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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