Comments on Bartolino et al. (2011): Limits of cumulative relative frequency distribution curves for hotspot identification

Luis Cayuela, Lucía Gálvez-Bravo, Luis María Carrascal, Fábio S. de Albuquerque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The recent paper by Bartolino et al. (Popul Ecol 53:351-359, 2011) presents a new method to objectively select hotspots using cumulative relative frequency distribution (CRFD) curves. This method is presented as being independent from the selection of any threshold and, therefore, less arbitrary than traditional approaches. We argue that this method, albeit mathematically sound, is based on likewise arbitrary decisions regarding threshold selection. Specifically, the use of the CRFD curve approach requires the occurrence of two criteria for the method to be applied correctly: the selection of a 45° tangent to the curve, and the need to consider the highest relative value of the study parameter corresponding to a 45° slope tangent to the curve. Using two case studies (dealing with species richness and abundance of a particular species), we demonstrate that these two criteria are really unrelated to the underlying causes that shape the spatial pattern of the phenomena under study, but rather related to sampling design and spatial scale; hence, one could likewise use different but valid criteria. Consequently, the CRFD curve approach is based on the selection of a pre-defined threshold that has little, if any, ecological justification, and that heavily influences the final hotspot selection. Therefore, we conclude that the CRFD curve approach itself is not necessarily better and more objective than any of the global methods typically used for hotspot identification. Indeed, mathematical and/or statistical approaches should not be viewed as a panacea to solve conservation problems, but rather used in combination with biological, practical, economic and social considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-601
Number of pages5
JournalPopulation Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity hotspot
  • Conservation prioritization
  • Density
  • High value conservation areas
  • Species richness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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