Send to

Choose Destination
Trends Ecol Evol. 2012 Apr;27(4):203-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

The case for ecological neutral theory.

Author information

Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK.


Ecological neutral theory has elicited strong opinions in recent years. Here, we review these opinions and strip away some unfortunate problems with semantics to reveal three major underlying questions. Only one of these relates to neutral theory and the importance of ecological drift, whereas the others involve the link between pattern and process, the tradeoff between simplicity and complexity in modeling, and the role of stochasticity and drift in ecology. We explain how neutral theory cannot be simultaneously used both as a null hypothesis and as an approximation. However, we also show how neutral theory always has a valuable use in one of these two roles, even though the real world is not neutral.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center