Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

A New Index Measuring Evenness

C. Heipa1

a1 Department of Zoology, State University of Ghent, Belgium

The use of diversity and evenness indices is well established in recent ecological literature. Many indices have been proposed, to such an extent that the choice of a suitable index became somewhat of a problem. Recently, however, Hill (1973) introduced a unifying notation where diversity numbers are denned in relation to Rényi's definition of a generalized entropy. Hill showed that his diversity numbers Na of the oth, 1st and 2nd order coincide with three important diversity measures which have been frequently used, No = S, N1 = eH and N2 = 1/SI, where S is the number of species, H is the shannon-Wiener information function –Σpi In pi and SI is Simpson's index S0025315400022736_inline1. According to this notation, evenness should be calculated by dividing two of Hill's diversity numbers, e.g. N2/N1 = eH/S. This index was proposed by Sheldon (1969), but its use in ecological literature has been negligible. The most commonly used evenness index has been the one proposed by Pielou (1966), e = H/Hmax, with H max = lnS. Contrary to Hill's (1973) statement, it shares with Hill's continuum of evenness measures the property of remaining constant when the number of individuals of all species is multiplied with a constant factor. Intuitively, this seems to be a necessary property of an evenness index.