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Am Nat. 2009 Dec;174(6):919-27; discussion 928-31. doi: 10.1086/648058.

Don't diss integration: a comment on Ricklefs's disintegrating communities.

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  • 1Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Macaulay Drive, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB158QH, Scotland, United Kingdom.


Ricklefs's recent call to investigate ecological processes at large scales helps focus ecologists' attention on an undoubtedly important topic. However, we believe that some of his accompanying arguments for the primacy of such work and, in particular, for the need to "disintegrate" the local community concept are flawed. We revisit Ricklefs's main tenets and demonstrate that research on local communities is a vital part of understanding processes and diversity across a range of spatial and temporal scales. The integration of research across spatial scales expands our horizons and understanding of ecology and evolution, and this should not be unnecessarily constrained to one extreme or the other.

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