chapter  9
16 Pages

Fossil J-Curves

Although it might seem an odd thing to do, a biologist conducting a biosurvey could count not only the individuals per species collected, he or she could also count the number of species per genus, erecting a histogram for such counts. In this case, the first column would indicate the number of genera that had just one species in the area under survey, the second column would indicate the number of genera with two species, and so on. Indeed, for the sake of examining the patterns thus produced, it would not be necessary for the biologist to confine the count to his or her sample, or even to the area under survey. The same exercise could be carried out over a much wider area with the help of a field guide or specialized monograph. Not stopping at species per genus, the biologist could also count the number of genera per family, indeed the number of any lower taxonomic level per a fixed higher level.