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Temporal Dynamics and Ecological Process
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Book description

In contrast with the fundamental ecological expectation that similarity induces competition and loss of species, temporal dynamics allows similar species to co-occur. In fact, the coexistence of similar species contributes significantly to species diversity and could affect ecosystem response to climate change. However, because temporal processes take place over time, they have often been a challenge to document or even to identify. Temporal Dynamics and Ecological Process brings together studies that have met this challenge and present two specific aspects of temporal processes: reproductive scheduling and the stable coexistence of similar species. By using plants to extract general principles, these studies uncover deep ties between temporal niche dynamics and the above central ecological issues, thereby providing a better understanding of what drives temporal processes in nature. Written by leading scientists in the field, this title will be a valuable source of reference to research ecologists and those interested in temporal ecology.


'It is generally believed, and indeed is often true, that species which are very similar will tend to compete, with the more effective competitor excluding the weaker. This important and interesting book shows that - to the contrary - the co-existence of similar species can greatly enrich the diversity of communities, and also can help in responding to, or recovering from, environmental disturbance. The book uses studies of plant communities to document these general principles, placing particular emphasis on reproductive scheduling and its role in the stable coexistence of similar species. The book deserves a wide audience.'

Robert M. May - University of Oxford

'Ecologists have long talked about temporal variability, such as in rainfall, but largely as perturbations to a more static, idealized equilibrium. Yet, temporal variation is a pervasive feature of the natural world, and species have evolved to exploit such variation. Species can also generate novel sources of temporal variation, such as the dramatic phenomenon of masting. This well-crafted book, containing chapters by many distinguished ecologists, draws together excellent case studies from a range of field systems, along with theory on the storage effect and evolution of masting, to champion the view that temporal variation is central to the generation and maintenance of biological diversity. It should be on the shelves of all ecologists who care deeply about the factors governing ecological communities, and about the preservation of biodiversity in our ever-changing world.'

Robert D. Holt - University of Florida, and co-editor of Trait-Mediated Indirect Interactions (2012)

'The idea that species can have good years and bad years will be familiar to any observer of the natural world, but this volume takes the idea a step further: if different species have different good years then there is the basis of a mechanism that can allow competing species to coexist in a community. How species coexist in diverse communities, without one or a few outcompeting the many is a key question in our understanding of how biological communities are assembled.'

Ian Powell Source: The Biologist

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