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    Author(s): Kevin C. Rose; Rose A. Graves; Winslow D. Hansen; Brian J. Harvey; Jiangxiao Qiu; Stephen A. Wood; Carly Ziter; Monica G. Turner; Wilfried Thuiller
    Date: 2017
    Source: Ecology Letters
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (461.0 KB)

    Description

    Macrosystems ecology is an effort to understand ecological processes and interactions at the broadest spatial scales and has potential to help solve globally important social and ecological challenges. It is important to understand the intellectual legacies underpinning macrosystems ecology: How the subdiscipline fits within, builds upon, differs from and extends previous theories. We trace the rise of macrosystems ecology with respect to preceding theories and present a new hypothesis that integrates the multiple components of macrosystems theory. The spatio-temporal anthropogenic rescaling (STAR) hypothesis suggests that human activities are altering the scales of ecological processes, resulting in interactions at novel space–time scale combinations that are diverse and predictable. We articulate four predictions about how human actions are “expanding”, “shrinking”, “speeding up” and “slowing down” ecological processes and interactions, and thereby generating new scaling relationships for ecological patterns and processes. We provide examples of these rescaling processes and describe ecological consequences across terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. Rescaling depends in part on characteristics including connectivity, stability and heterogeneity. Our STAR hypothesis challenges traditional assumptions about how the spatial and temporal scales of processes and interactions operate in different types of ecosystems and provides a lens through which to understand macrosystem-scale environmental change.

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    Citation

    Rose, Kevin C.; Graves, Rose A.; Hansen, Winslow D.; Harvey, Brian J.; Qiu, Jiangxiao; Wood, Stephen A.; Ziter, Carly; Turner, Monica G.; Thuiller, Wilfried. 2017.Historical foundations and future directions in macrosystems ecology. Ecology Letters. 20(2): 147-157. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12717.

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    Keywords

    Hierarchy theory, landscape ecology, macrosystems ecology, space-time, spatio-temporal

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