On some properties of the Bray-Curtis dissimilarity and their ecological meaning

C. Ricotta, J. Podaní

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we examine some basic properties of the Bray-Curtis dissimilarity as compared with other distance and dissimilarity functions applied to ecological abundance data. We argue that the ability of every coefficient to measure species-level contributions is a fundamental requirement. By suggesting an additive decomposition formula for the Bray-Curtis coefficient we derive a general formula of dissimilarity, which includes the Canberra distance and the Bray-Curtis dissimilarity as special cases. A similar general formula is also proposed for the Marczewski-Steinhaus coefficient. Finally, using a modified version of Dalton's principle of transfers, we show that the Bray-Curtis coefficient and the city-block distance exhibit a linear response to the transfer of species abundances from an abundant plot to a less abundant plot. At the other extreme, the chord and the Hellinger distances show an irregular and non-monotonic behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-205
Number of pages5
JournalEcological Complexity
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Data standardization
  • Generalized coefficients
  • Multivariate dissimilarity measures
  • Principle of transfers
  • Species abundances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecological Modelling

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