In ecology and evolution, entropic methods are now used widely and increasingly frequently. Their use can be traced back to Ramon Margalef’s first attempt 70 years ago to use log-series to quantify ecological diversity, including searching for ecologically meaningful groupings within a large assemblage, which we now call the gamma level. The same year, Shannon and Weaver published a generally accessible form of Shannon’s work on information theory, including the measure that we now call Shannon–Wiener entropy. Margalef seized on that measure and soon proposed that ecologists should use the Shannon–Weiner index to evaluate diversity, including assessing local (alpha) diversity and differentiation between localities (beta). He also discussed relating this measure to environmental variables and ecosystem processes such as succession. Over the subsequent decades, he enthusiastically expanded upon his initial suggestions. Finally, 2019 also would have been Margalef’s 100th birthday.
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