Historical Ecology: A new approach to studying the evolution of ecological associations

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1985
Authors:D. R. Brooks
Journal:Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens
Pagination:660 - 680
Date Published:1985
Keywords:history, systematics

Historical ecology is presented as a complementary approach to evolutionary ecology. The prime distinction between the two approaches is the use of direct estimates of history by the latter. Direct estimates of history are obtained by the use of phylogenetic systematics. They require analysis of many species simultaneously. Indirect estimates can be applied in individual cases and include such concepts as: (1) equating number of species in an ecological association with the age of the association; (2) equating the geographic range of a species with its age; and (3) equating the specificity of ecological interactions with the length of time species have been associated. Historical ecological associations have been applied in three general areas: (1) the historical context of geographic distribution patterns; (2) the historical context of ecological associations; (3) the historical context of particular ecological life history traits. A unified quantitive approach allows historical ecological analysis for individual clades or aggregates of clades. Amoung the most interesting general conclusions that are forthcoming from the historical ecological perspective are those that differ from the ecological view. These include (1) ecological diversification lags behind morphological diversification historically; (2) degree of specificity is not a thoroughly reliable indicator of the age of an association; (3) resource tracking models of coevolution seem to include unacceptable assumptions; and (4) maximum competition scenarios are indistinguishable from random association scenarios. Future studies promise to be fruitful.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith