The n-dimensional hypervolume

Benjamin Blonder, Christine Lamanna, Cyrille Violle, Brian J. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

421 Scopus citations


Aim: The Hutchinsonian hypervolume is the conceptual foundation for many lines of ecological and evolutionary inquiry, including functional morphology, comparative biology, community ecology and niche theory. However, extant methods to sample from hypervolumes or measure their geometry perform poorly on high-dimensional or holey datasets. Innovation: We first highlight the conceptual and computational issues that have prevented a more direct approach to measuring hypervolumes. Next, we present a new multivariate kernel density estimation method that resolves many of these problems in an arbitrary number of dimensions. Main conclusions: We show that our method (implemented as the 'hypervolume' R package) can match several extant methods for hypervolume geometry and species distribution modelling. Tools to quantify high-dimensional ecological hypervolumes will enable a wide range of fundamental descriptive, inferential and comparative questions to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-609
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Environmental niche modelling
  • Hole
  • Hutchinson
  • Hypervolume
  • Kernel density estimation
  • Morphospace
  • Niche
  • Niche overlap
  • Species distribution modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'The n-dimensional hypervolume'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this