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Ecological Niches

Linking Classical and Contemporary Approaches

Ecological Niches

Linking Classical and Contemporary Approaches

Why do species live where they live? What determines the abundance and diversity of species in a given area? What role do species play in the functioning of entire ecosystems? All of these questions share a single core concept—the ecological niche. Although the niche concept has fallen into disfavor among ecologists in recent years, Jonathan M. Chase and Mathew A. Leibold argue that the niche is an ideal tool with which to unify disparate research and theoretical approaches in contemporary ecology.

Chase and Leibold define the niche as including both what an organism needs from its environment and how that organism’s activities shape its environment. Drawing on the theory of consumer-resource interactions, as well as its graphical analysis, they develop a framework for understanding niches that is flexible enough to include a variety of small- and large-scale processes, from resource competition, predation, and stress to community structure, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. Chase and Leibold’s synthetic approach will interest ecologists from a wide range of subdisciplines.

221 pages | 60 line drawings, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2003

Interspecific Interactions

Biological Sciences: Biology--Systematics, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology

Reviews

“[The premise of] Ecological Niches, by Chase and Liebold, is that the niche is the nexus of evolution, population, community, and ecosystem ecology, and that the world according to a niche-based theory provides a powerful, mechanistic, predictive framework for understanding nature.”

Trends in Ecology and Evolution


“[The authors] develop a framework for understanding niches that is flexible enough to include a variety of small- and large-scale processes, from resource competition, predation, and stress, to community structure, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. Chase and Leibold’s synthetic approach will interest ecologists from a wide range of subdisciplines.”--Ethology, Ecology, and Evolution

Ethology, Ecology, and Evolution

“A very good book, which attempts to present and support a new synthetic niche theory. . . . . This book helps to clarify different conceptual positions in ecology and encourage new and better research. . . . I recommend this book to any person interested in the current state of ecological theory.”

Plant Systematics and Evolution

“In this thought-provoking book, Chase and Leibold highlight how a clear understanding of the duality of the niche helps to clarify a wide variety of important ecological issues. They use an intuitively appealing graphical approach, which often encapsulates results of more complex analytical models. This book provides one avenue, paving the way towards a revitalization of community ecology.”

Robert Holt, University of Florida

"Ecological Niches is not directed to historians and philosophers, but to ecologists. Nevertheless, it contains one of the best surveys of the ecological literature pertaining to the niche concept and it represents one of the most valuable arguments for the utility of understanding the conceptual development of scientific ideas."

Keith R. Benson | History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter One: Introduction: History, Context, and Purpose
Chapter Two: Revising the Niche Concept: Definitions and Mechanistic Models
Chapter Three: Comparing Classical and Contemporary Niche Theory
Chapter Four: Designs and Limitations of Empirical Approaches to the Niche
Chapter Five: Incorporating Biological Complexities
Chapter Six: Environmental Variability in Time and Space
Chapter Seven: Species Sorting in Communities
Chapter Eight: Community Succession, Assembly, and Biodiversity
Chapter Nine: Niche Relations within Ecosystems
Chapter Ten: The Evolutionary Niche
Chapter Eleven: Conclusions

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