CIE Spotlight: Can Indices of Ecological Evenness Be Used to Measure Consensus?

Dale N.

Dale N.

TitleCan Indices of Ecological Evenness Be Used to Measure Consensus?

Authors: Beliakov, Gleb; James, Simon; Nimmo, Dale


Brief summary of the paper: In the context of group decision making with fuzzy preferences, consensus measures are employed to provide feedback and help guide automatic or semi-automatic decision reaching processes.

These measures attempt to capture the intuitive notion of how much inputs, individuals or groups agree with one another.

Meanwhile, in ecological studies there has been an ongoing research effort to define measures of community evenness based on how evenly the proportional abundances of species are distributed. The question hence arises as to whether there can be any cross-fertilization from developments in these fields given their intuitive similarity.

Here we investigate some of the models used in ecology toward their potential use in measuring consensus.

We found that although many consensus characteristics are exhibited by evenness indices, lack of reciprocity and a tendency towards a minimum when a single input is non-zero would make them undesirable for inputs expressed on an interval scale.

On the other hand, we note that some of the general frameworks could still be useful for other types of inputs like ranking profiles and that in the opposite direction consensus measures have the potential to provide new insights in ecology.