Spatial models for species-area curves

Rick Durrett, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


Inspired by earlier work of Hubbell, we introduce a simple spatial model to explain observed species-area curves. As in the theory of MacArthur and Wilson, our curves result from a balance between migration and extinction. Our model predicts that the wide range of slopes of species-area curves is due to the differences in the rates at which new species enter this system. However, two other predictions, that the slope increases with increasing migration/mutation and that the curves for remote islands are flatter than those for near islands, are at odds with some interpretations of data. This suggests either that the data have been misinterpreted, or that the model is not sufficient to explain them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 14 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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