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This volume has achieved a large coverage of the experimentally well-studied areas of the temperate and subtropical coasts of the world (see Figure 1.1) – venturing into the tropics in some regions (Chapter 14, South-East Asia) and including mangroves (Chapter 17). Coral reef systems have not been considered. Much of the emphasis has been on rocky habitats as this is where the majority of experimental work on interactions has been done (but see Chapter 6). As well as reviewing regions where there has been a long history of experimental research (e.g., Chapters 2–4, 6, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16), areas of emerging experimental research in the last twenty-five years (e.g., Chapter 8, western Mediterranean; Chapter 12, south-east Pacific) and understudied regions (e.g., Chapter 7, Argentina; Chapter 14, South-East Asia) have also been included, allowing more comprehensive insights into the processes important for shaping these communities. In this short synthesis chapter, we first consider the main processes determining patterns covered by the previous chapters. We then consider major human impacts in these regions. Finally, we identify gaps in knowledge and make some suggestions for the way forward. We make the case for combining phylogeographic studies with macro-ecology and biogeography, coupled with well-designed hypothesis testing experiments, to better understand processes generating patterns on micro-evolutionary (hundreds to thousands of years) and ecological (up to hundreds of years) time scales.
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