Macroecology: more than the divisionof food and space among species on continents
Progress in Physical Geography
Macroecology is a big-picture, statistical approach to the study of ecology. By focusing on broadly occurring patterns and processes operating at large spatial and temporal scales and ignoring localized and fine-scaled details, macroecology aims to uncover general mechanisms operating at organism, population and ecosystem levels of organization. Although such an approach is evident in writings dating from the mid- to late 1800s, not until 1989 was the domain of macroecology clearly articulated. Since then there has been an exponential growth in publications employing a macroecological perspective. Here we (1) briefly review the history of macroecology, with emphasis on cultural, scientific and technological innovations that made this approach possible, (2) highlight current developments in the field, including its increasing linkages with biogeography and other disciplines, and (3) point to likely future directions. We also touch upon methodological, statistical and institutional challenges faced by this and other highly interdisciplinary approaches. Our review of macroecology is especially timely, since it has been 20 years since the term was coined and the seminal paper published.
Smith, F.A., S.K. Lyons, S.K.M. Ernest, J.H. Brown. 2008. Macroecology: more than the division of food and space among species on continents. Progress in Physical Geography 32:115-138.