Galileo wrote that “nature cannot produce a horse as large as twenty ordinary horses or a giant ten times taller than an ordinary man unless by miracle or by greatly altering the proportions of his limbs and especially of his bones”—a statement that wonderfully captures a long-standing scientific fascination with body size. Why are organisms the size that they are? And what determines their optimum size?
This volume explores animal body size from a macroecological perspective, examining species, populations, and other large groups of animals in order to uncover the patterns and causal mechanisms of body size throughout time and across the globe. The chapters represent diverse scientific perspectives and are divided into two sections. The first includes chapters on insects, snails, birds, bats, and terrestrial mammals and discusses the body size patterns of these various organisms. The second examines some of the factors behind, and consequences of, body size patterns and includes chapters on community assembly, body mass distribution, life history, and the influence of flight on body size.
Macroecology is an approach to science that emphasizes the description and explanation of patterns and processes at large spatial and temporal scales. Some scientists liken it to seeing the forest through the trees, giving the proverbial phrase an ecological twist. The term itself was first introduced to the modern literature by James H. Brown and Brian A. Maurer in a 1989 paper, and it is Brown’s classic 1995 study, Macroecology, that is credited with inspiring the broad-scale subfield of ecology. But as with all subfields, many modern-day elements of macroecology are implicit in earlier works dating back decades, even centuries.
Foundations of Macroecology charts the evolutionary trajectory of these concepts—from the species-area relationship and the latitudinal gradient of species richness to the relationship between body size and metabolic rate—through forty-six landmark papers originally published between 1920 and 1998. Divided into two parts—“Macroecology before Macroecology” and “Dimensions of Macroecology”—the collection also takes the long view, with each paper accompanied by an original commentary from a contemporary expert in the field that places it in a broader context and explains its foundational role. Providing a solid, coherent assessment of the history, current state, and potential future of the field, Foundations of Macroecology will be an essential text for students and teachers of ecology alike.
James H. Brown University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress QH541.B75 1995 | Dewey Decimal 574.5
In Macroecology, James H. Brown proposes a radical new research agenda designed to broaden the scope of ecology to encompass vast geographical areas and very long time spans.
While much ecological research is narrowly focused and experimental, providing detailed information that cannot be used to generalize from one ecological community or time period to another, macroecology draws on data from many disciplines to create a less detailed but much broader picture with greater potential for generalization. Integrating data from ecology, systematics, evolutionary biology, paleobiology, and biogeography to investigate problems that could only be addressed on a much smaller scale by traditional approaches, macroecology provides a richer, more complete understanding of how patterns of life have moved across the earth over time. Brown also demonstrates the advantages of macroecology for conservation, showing how it allows scientists to look beyond endangered species and ecological communities to consider the long history and large geographic scale of human impacts.
An important reassessment of the direction of ecology by one of the most influential thinkers in the field, this work will shape future research in ecology and other disciplines.
"This approach may well mark a major new turn in the road in the history of ecology, and I find it extremely exciting. The scope of Macroecology is tremendous and the book makes use of its author's exceptionally broad experience and knowledge. An excellent and important book."—Lawrence R. Heaney, Center for Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, the Field Museum
Edited by Jon D. Witman and Kaustuv Roy University of Chicago Press, 2009 Library of Congress QH541.5.S3M2829 2009 | Dewey Decimal 577.7
Pioneered in the late 1980s, the concept of macroecology—a framework for studying ecological communities with a focus on patterns and processes—revolutionized the field. Although this approach has been applied mainly to terrestrial ecosystems, there is increasing interest in quantifying macroecological patterns in the sea and understanding the processes that generate them. Taking stock of the current work in the field and advocating a research agenda for the decades ahead, Marine Macroecology draws together insights and approaches from a diverse group of scientists to show how marine ecology can benefit from the adoption of macroecological approaches.
Divided into three parts, Marine Macroecology first provides an overview of marine diversity patterns and offers case studies of specific habitats and taxonomic groups. In the second part, contributors focus on process-based explanations for marine ecological patterns. The third part presents new approaches to understanding processes driving the macroecolgical patterns in the sea. Uniting unique insights from different perspectives with the common goal of identifying and understanding large-scale biodiversity patterns, Marine Macroecology will inspire the next wave of marine ecologists to approach their research from a macroecological perspective.