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Rhizophoraceae (mangroves) dominate tropical tidal swamps

Ecological dominance is the degree to which one or several species have a major influence controlling the other species in their ecological community (because of their large size, population, productivity, or related factors)[1] or make up more of the biomass. Both the composition and abundance of species within an ecosystem can be affected by the dominant species present.[2]

In most of the world's ecosystems, biologists have repeatedly observed a rank-abundance curve in which ecosystems comprise a handful of incredibly abundant species, but more numerous, rarer species that are few in number.[3][4][5][6] Danish botanist Christen C. Raunkiær described this phenomenon as his "law of frequency" in 1918, in which he recognized that in communities with a single species accounting for most of the biomass, species diversity was often lower.[7]

Understandably, biologists expect to see more profound effects from those species greater in number.[8] First formalized as the mass ratio hypothesis in a 1998 paper by English ecologist J. Philip Grime, ecologically dominant species are predicted to have overwhelming effects on ecosystem function and ecological processes due to their relatively high biomass and ubiquity.[9]

Androgopon scoparium and Andropogon gerardii dominate this tallgrass prairie in Delorme, Minnesota

Most ecological communities are defined by their dominant species.[10][2]

There are currently several different metrics for assessing species dominance in natural ecosystems, including the importance value index,[22] competitive index,[23] community importance index,[24] and dominance index.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms - Ecological dominance Definition".
  2. ^ a b c Avolio, Meghan L.; Forrestel, Elisabeth J.; Chang, Cynthia C.; La Pierre, Kimberly J.; Burghardt, Karin T.; Smith, Melinda D. (13 March 2019). "Demystifying dominant species". New Phytologist. 223 (3): 1106–1126. doi:10.1111/nph.15789. ISSN 0028-646X.
  3. ^ Whittaker, R. H. (1965-01-15). "Dominance and Diversity in Land Plant Communities". Science. 147 (3655): 250–260. doi:10.1126/science.147.3655.250. ISSN 0036-8075.
  4. ^ Alroy, John (2015-09-04). "The shape of terrestrial abundance distributions". Science Advances. 1 (8). doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500082. ISSN 2375-2548. PMC 4643760.
  5. ^ Darwin, Charles; Murray, John (1859). On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street.
  6. ^ Gleason, H. A. (1 October 1929). "The Significance of Raunkiaer's Law of Frequency". Ecology. 10 (4): 406–408. doi:10.2307/1931149. ISSN 0012-9658.
  7. ^ Kenoyer, Leslie A. (1 July 1927). "A Study of Raunkaier's Law of Frequence". Ecology. 8 (3): 341–349. doi:10.2307/1929336. ISSN 0012-9658.
  8. ^ Gaston, Kevin J. (1 May 2011). "Common Ecology". BioScience. 61 (5): 354–362. doi:10.1525/bio.2011.61.5.4. ISSN 1525-3244.
  9. ^ Grime, J. P. (5 January 2002). "Benefits of plant diversity to ecosystems: immediate, filter and founder effects". Journal of Ecology. 86 (6): 902–910. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2745.1998.00306.x. ISSN 0022-0477.
  10. ^ Braun, E. Lucy (1 April 1947). "Development of the Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America". Ecological Monographs. 17 (2): 211–219. doi:10.2307/1943265. ISSN 0012-9615.
  11. ^ Prieditis, Normunds (1997-03-01). "Alnus glutinosa – dominated wetland forests of the Baltic Region: community structure, syntaxonomy and conservation". Plant Ecology. 129 (1): 49–94. doi:10.1023/A:1009759701364. ISSN 1573-5052.
  12. ^ Smith, Melinda D.; Knapp, Alan K. (8 May 2003). "Dominant species maintain ecosystem function with non-random species loss". Ecology Letters. 6 (6): 509–517. doi:10.1046/j.1461-0248.2003.00454.x. ISSN 1461-023X.
  13. ^ Silletti, Andrea M; Knapp, Alan K; Blair, John M (2004-04-01). "Competition and coexistence in grassland codominants: responses to neighbour removal and resource availability". Canadian Journal of Botany. 82 (4): 450–460. doi:10.1139/b04-016. ISSN 0008-4026.
  14. ^ Chang, Cynthia C.; Smith, Melinda D. (2011-10-21). "Invasion of an intact plant community: the role of population versus community level diversity". Oecologia. 168 (4): 1091–1102. doi:10.1007/s00442-011-2157-z. ISSN 0029-8549.
  15. ^ Hoover, D. L.; Knapp, A. K.; Smith, M. D. (2014-05-23). "Contrasting sensitivities of two dominant C4 grasses to heat waves and drought". Plant Ecology. 215 (7): 721–731. doi:10.1007/s11258-014-0345-8. ISSN 1385-0237.
  16. ^ Krachler, Regina; Krachler, Rudolf F.; Wallner, Gabriele; Steier, Peter; El Abiead, Yasin; Wiesinger, Hubert; Jirsa, Franz; Keppler, Bernhard K. (2016-06-15). "Sphagnum-dominated bog systems are highly effective yet variable sources of bio-available iron to marine waters". Science of the Total Environment. 556: 53–62. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.012. ISSN 0048-9697.
  17. ^ Brocklehurst, P (1996). Mangrove survey of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory (N.T.) : CCNT/NFI project 1994-95. Dept. of Lands Planning and Environment. ISBN 0-7245-2766-4. OCLC 40791904.
  18. ^ Ismail; Sulistiono; Hariyadi, S; Madduppa, H (2021-04-01). "Diversity, density, and Importance Value Index of mangroves in the Segara Anakan lagoon and its surrounding area, Cilacap Regency, Indonesia". IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science. 744 (1): 012034. doi:10.1088/1755-1315/744/1/012034. ISSN 1755-1307.
  19. ^ Piepenburg, D.; Schmid, M. K. (1996-07-01). "Brittle star fauna (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) of the arctic northwestern Barents sea: composition, abundance, biomass and spatial distribution". Polar Biology. 16 (6): 383–392. doi:10.1007/BF02390420. ISSN 1432-2056.
  20. ^ Worm, B.; Karez, R. (2002), "Competition, Coexistence and Diversity on Rocky Shores", Competition and Coexistence, vol. 161, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 133–163, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-56166-5_6, ISBN 978-3-642-62800-9, retrieved 2023-04-27
  21. ^ Camarota, Flávio; Vasconcelos, Heraldo L.; Marquis, Robert J.; Powell, Scott (2020-10-01). "Revisiting ecological dominance in arboreal ants: how dominant usage of nesting resources shapes community assembly". Oecologia. 194 (1): 151–163. doi:10.1007/s00442-020-04748-z. ISSN 1432-1939.
  22. ^ Curtis, J. T.; McIntosh, R. P. (1 July 1951). "An Upland Forest Continuum in the Prairie-Forest Border Region of Wisconsin". Ecology. 32 (3): 476–496. doi:10.2307/1931725. ISSN 0012-9658.
  23. ^ GRIME, J. P. (30 March 1973). "Competitive Exclusion in Herbaceous Vegetation". Nature. 242 (5396): 344–347. doi:10.1038/242344a0. ISSN 0028-0836.
  24. ^ Power, Mary E.; Tilman, David; Estes, James A.; Menge, Bruce A.; Bond, William J.; Mills, L. Scott; Daily, Gretchen; Castilla, Juan Carlos; Lubchenco, Jane; Paine, Robert T. (1 September 1996). "Challenges in the Quest for Keystones". BioScience. 46 (8): 609–620. doi:10.2307/1312990. ISSN 0006-3568.