The recent concepts of diversity and evenness and their definitions are discussed. It is shown that especially the ambiguities in defining evenness has led to confusion about evenness measures and their applicability. Definitions of diversity and evenness from parameters of relative abundance distributions avoid such ambiguities. In this paper diversity is defined as the negative inverse of the slope of the relative abundance distribution in a semilogarithmic plot and evenness as the arcus tangens transformed shaping parameter. Diversity and evenness depend therefore on the type of relative abundance distribution and diversities from communities of different types of relative abundance distributions (power fraction, random assortment or Zipf-Mandelbrot type) cannot be compared directly. The properties of these newly defined diversity and evenness indices and their behavior in samples are discussed. It is shown that Tokeshi's newly developed power fraction model may serve as a universal basis for defining diversity and evenness indices.
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