Community Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 117–119 | Cite as

On the operative use of community overlap in analyzing incidence data

  • D. SchmeraEmail author
Open Access


Although overlap of communities is a key issue in studies ranging from community ecology to biogeography, a clear definition of community overlap and related terms hinder the development of the field. The absence of a unified terminology is remarkable even when the overlap of a pair or multiple communities is characterized. As a remedy, I suggest a definition of community overlap and two measures of it (number of overlapping species and total overlap size). Although both measures quantify different aspects of community overlap, in studying pairs of communities they yield identical results. The present findings demonstrate the need for a unified terminology in research on community overlap as well as for pairwise and multiple measures for quantifying the phenomenon.


Co-occurrence Overlapping species Similarity Total overlap size 


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2017

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Balaton Limnological Institute and MTA Centre for Ecological ResearchGINOP Sustainable Ecosystem GroupTihanyHungary

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