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Table 1 Advantages of Hill numbers in comparison to standard diversity indices

From: Improved quantitative microbiome profiling for environmental antibiotic resistance surveillance

1 Interpretation of the measure and its measurement unit is always the same in 'effective numbers of species', i.e. the number of equally abundant species (or for DNA based approaches operational taxonomic unit (OTU)/amplicon sequence variant (ASV) [30]) required to generate an identical diversity [26]
2 Hill numbers double as the amount of equally common species doubles (called the 'doubling principle'), which allows more meaningful calculations of statistical significant changes [23]
3 The sensitivity towards abundant and rare species can be modulated with a single parameter with Hill numbers (order of diversity – q)
4 Hill numbers can be computed taking into account phylogenetic or functional relationships among species (e.g. similar to Faith’s Phylogenetic Diversity [30])
5 Hill numbers were originally developed for abundance data, but can also be applied to incidence data [25]
6 Within the Hill framework, the diversity of a system can be partitioned, so α-diversity (average diversity of subsystems) multiplied by β-diversity (difference between subsystems) gives γ-diversity (entire diversity of the system) [31, 32]
7 Multiple (dis)similarity measurements derived from β-diversities can be calculated from Hill numbers with some being equal to other popular indices e.g. Unifrac [25]
8 The calculation of Hill numbers is straight-forward and can easily be implemented into existing bioinformatic pipelines [33]