There is considerable debate about whether community ecology will ever produce general principles. We suggest here that this can be achieved but that community ecology has lost its way by focusing on pairwise species interactions independent of the environment. We assert that community ecology should return to an emphasis on four themes that are tied together by a two-step process: how the fundamental niche is governed by functional traits within the context of abiotic environmental gradients; and how the interaction between traits and fundamental niches maps onto the realized niche in the context of a biotic interaction milieu. We suggest this approach can create a more quantitative and predictive science that can more readily address issues of global change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics