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This page deals with methods which can be used to analyze data to obtain biodiversity measurement indices. As this website expands more softwares and indices will be added to this page.

Analysis using PAST -

PAST is an acronym which stands for PALeontological STatistics. It is a FREE software (downloadable at created by Øyvind Hammer of the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo and while it was initially developed for data analysis relating to paleontology it was developed to include many more features. PAST has a simple interface and many diversity indices can be obtained from a data set in a few simple clicks.

Step 1 -

Enter the data into the cells. Versions prior to 3.0 have an edit mode and edit labels tick box. (Tick the “edit mode” and “edit labels” boxes. Ticking the edit mode and edit labels boxes allows you to put the names of your species into label column and the number of individuals found belonging to each species into the second column next to the label column.) The latest version 3.0 and up can have data entered directly but at the time of writing this article all the functionality of prior versions wasn't incorporated into version 3.0 which was completely restructured and redesigned.


biodiversity indices analysis PAST



Step 2 -

(Click the “edit mode” and “edit label” boxes to un-tick them if using a version prior to 3.0).  Select the column containing the number of individuals. Click the “Diversity” button in the command bar to drop it’s menu and then click on “Diversity indices”. 

analysis of biodiversity indices in PAST



Step 3 -

The results window that opens up gives a number of indices such as Dominance, Shannon, Simpson, etc. The results can be copied to any spreadsheet program (such as Microsoft Excel or a free alternative like Kingsoft Spreadsheet or Libre Office Calc) and saved. 


analysis of biodiversity indices in PAST



Note - PAST also comes with a help file which explains the software and it’s functions in detail. The help file also contains the reference for the software. If you are publishing your results please add the reference of the software to the references section of your research paper. It is the least you can do in return for the efforts the author of the software has put in to provide a free valuable service.


About the Author of this Article

References -

Hammer, Ø. & Harper, D.A.T. 2006. Paleontological Data Analysis. Blackwell.
Hammer, Ø., Harper, D.A.T., and P. D. Ryan, 2001. PAST: Paleontological Statistics Software Package
for Education and Data Analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4(1): 9pp.