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Islands as model systems in ecology and evolution: prospects fifty years after MacArthur-Wilson

  • The study of islands as model systems has played an important role in the development of evolutionary and ecological theory. The 50th anniversary of MacArthur and Wilson's (December 1963) article, An equilibrium theory of insular zoogeography', was a recent milestone for this theme. Since 1963, island systems have provided new insights into the formation of ecological communities. Here, building on such developments, we highlight prospects for research on islands to improve our understanding of the ecology and evolution of communities in general. Throughout, we emphasise how attributes of islands combine to provide unusual research opportunities, the implications of which stretch far beyond islands. Molecular tools and increasing data acquisition now permit re-assessment of some fundamental issues that interested MacArthur and Wilson. These include the formation of ecological networks, species abundance distributions, and the contribution of evolution to community assembly. We also extend our prospects to other fields of ecology andThe study of islands as model systems has played an important role in the development of evolutionary and ecological theory. The 50th anniversary of MacArthur and Wilson's (December 1963) article, An equilibrium theory of insular zoogeography', was a recent milestone for this theme. Since 1963, island systems have provided new insights into the formation of ecological communities. Here, building on such developments, we highlight prospects for research on islands to improve our understanding of the ecology and evolution of communities in general. Throughout, we emphasise how attributes of islands combine to provide unusual research opportunities, the implications of which stretch far beyond islands. Molecular tools and increasing data acquisition now permit re-assessment of some fundamental issues that interested MacArthur and Wilson. These include the formation of ecological networks, species abundance distributions, and the contribution of evolution to community assembly. We also extend our prospects to other fields of ecology and evolution - understanding ecosystem functioning, speciation and diversification - frequently employing assets of oceanic islands in inferring the geographic area within which evolution has occurred, and potential barriers to gene flow. Although island-based theory is continually being enriched, incorporating non-equilibrium dynamics is identified as a major challenge for the future.show moreshow less

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Author:Ben H. Warren, Daniel Simberloff, Robert E. Ricklefs, Robin Aguilee, Fabien L. Condamine, Dominique Gravel, Helene Morlon, Nicolas Mouquet, James Rosindell, Juliane Casquet, Elena Conti, Josselin Cornuault, Jose Maria Fernandez-Palacios, Tomislav Hengl, Sietze J. Norder, Kenneth F. Rijsdijk, Isabel Sanmartin, Dominique Strasberg, Kostas A. Triantis, Luis M. Valente, Robert J. Whittaker, Rosemary G. Gillespie, Brent C. Emerson, Christophe Thebaud
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12398
ISSN:1461-023X (print)
ISSN:1461-0248 (online)
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=25560682
Parent Title (English):Ecology letters
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
Place of publication:Hoboken
Document Type:Review
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:Community assembly; diversification; ecosystem functioning; genomics; island biogeography; islands as model systems; speciation
Volume:18
Issue:2
Pagenumber:18
First Page:200
Last Page:217
Funder:FRB (Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversite), through its 267243]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert