Marine and terrestrial ecology: Unifying concepts, revealing differences

  • Webb T
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Abstract

The extent to which similar ecological processes operate on land and in the sea has been much debated, with apparently 'fundamental' differences often disappearing when appropriate comparisons are made. However, marine and terrestrial ecology have developed as largely separate intellectual endeavours, which has hampered the search for general patterns and mechanisms. Here, I argue that marine-terrestrial comparative studies can be extremely useful at uncovering mechanisms when they explicitly consider those facets of the environment that are important to a particular hypothesis. Furthermore, the binary 'marine-terrestrial' division misses many opportunities for more interesting comparisons, several of which I highlight here. Increasing the flow of concepts, hypotheses, and data between marine and terrestrial ecologists is essential to reveal those differences that really are important. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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