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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.
The rocky shores of New Zealand (NZ) and Australia provide many interesting comparisons in their intertidal species and structuring processes. Both countries are in the biogeographic realm of temperate Australasia and share many common species and closely related taxa. Here we review similarities and contrasts in communities and structuring processes, especially involving grazing invertebrates and macroalgae. We consider the similarity of the structure of intertidal shores of NZ and south-eastern Australia, a suite of important trophic interactions within and between regions, the utility of local-scale experiments in understanding large-scale processes and how we might better plan for and manage our coasts. The major comparisons are between warm-temperate areas of northern NZ and New South Wales, and the cooler areas of southern NZ and south-eastern Australia. In the quest for ‘ecosystem’-level understanding, which perforce involves large-scale events, there is an increasing tendency to minimise or ignore the hard-won insights gained from well-structured experiments across multiple sites. Because all large-scale effects must be manifested at local sites, it is incumbent on us to determine what scales up or down, and the caveats that make comparisons across biogeographic regions challenging. Here, we discuss these issues using austral shores as models.
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