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Community EcologyProcesses, Models, and Applications$
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Herman A. Verhoef and Peter J. Morin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228973

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228973.001.0001

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Increasing spatio-temporal scales: metacommunity ecology

Increasing spatio-temporal scales: metacommunity ecology

(p.57) Chapter 5 Increasing spatio-temporal scales: metacommunity ecology
Community Ecology

Jonathan M. Chase

Janne Bengtsson

Oxford University Press

A metacommunity consists of several local communities connected by dispersal. A metacommunity perspective helps to synthesize community ecology across spatial scales, and provides insights into the spatial mechanisms causing variation in species coexistence, strengths of species interactions and patterns of local and regional diversity. For example, while increasing the rate of dispersal among habitats can often lead to higher diversity of species, high dispersal can also homogenize the variation among communities (e.g. lower among-site variation (β-diversity) and increase predation intensity. An explicit consideration of scale, and, in particular, the relationship between local (α-diversity) and regional (γ-diversity), as mediated through β-diversity, will provide insights into the mechanisms underlying the structure of metacommunities. Finally, an explicitly spatial perspective must recognize the potential importance of movement of organisms and materials across traditional taxonomic (e.g. different trophic levels) and ecosystem (e.g. aquatic, terrestrial) boundaries.

Keywords:   dispersal, diversity, metacommunity ecology, spatial scales, species interactions

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