Theoretical and analytical problems of the dynamics of distribution and abundance in animal communities were examined. In many communities, species with low abundance and of limited spatial occurrence (i.e., rare species) typically form a conspicuous peak when a frequency distribution of the number of species is constructed with respect to the proportion of sites occupied within an area of distribution. Models of distribution dynamics, including a new model proposed here, were compared with a range of animal community data using a new procedure to assess single- and bi-modal patterns in frequency distributions of spatial occurrence. Data reveal that single-modality with an excess of rare species occurs more frequently than bimodality. Even when bimodality is detected, the mode representing wide-spread species is in the majority of cases smaller than that for rare species. Thus, a new model in which the rate of local extinctions is assumed to be negatively related to patch occupancy (or population abundance) is in better agreement with observed data than earlier models. Some problems of analysis, in particular model assumptions and testing, are discussed.
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