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Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Oct;22(10):516-21. Epub 2007 Sep 5.

Microcosm experiments can inform global ecological problems.

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1
Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK. t.g.benton@leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

Global-scale environmental problems are rarely regarded as amenable to traditional scientific experiment. We argue here that small-scale experiments using 'model organisms' in microcosms or mesocosms can be a useful approach for apparently intractable global problems, such as ecosystem responses to climate change or managing biodiversity through the design of nature reserves. An experimental, small-scale research programme can easily be coupled with the development of theory and act as a stimulus to further research, thereby hastening both understanding of the issues and development of practical solutions. This process--from microcosm experiment to the development of practical application--has previously been influential but also has a long time lag. We suggest short-cuts in an attempt to stimulate the use of small-scale experiments to address globally urgent issues with meaningful policy implications.

PMID:
17822805
DOI:
10.1016/j.tree.2007.08.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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