Published on September 28, 2017   25 min
This lecture will be on Macroecology. I'm Doctor Natalie Cooper. I'm a Researcher at the Natural History Museum in London.
In this lecture, I am to introduce you to the field of macroecology. I'm going to begin by trying to define macroecology and discussing why macroecology first emerged as a discipline in the early 1990s. I'm then going to describe some of the patterns of classical Macroecological studies we investigated, and in more detail describe one such pattern, the Latitudinal diversity gradient. I'm then going to quickly introduce some ways that modern macroecology has changed from the original remit of Macroecological studies.
So what is macroecology? Macroecology can be very simply thought of as ecology at large spatial scales. But there's quite a lot of debate among the community of ecologists and also within macroecologists as to exactly what counts as macroecology and what doesn't.
Part of the problem is that macroecology overlaps with so many other disciplines. For example, Biogeography, Macroevolution, Evolutionary Ecology, and Community Ecology. You'll often find, for example, community ecologists doing projects which we might think of as macroecology, but they would never call themselves a macroecologist.
All definitions of macroecology do share at least one feature and that's that macroecology focuses on large scale questions. This scale can actually be large spatially, temporally, or both. And usually only spatial scale is explicitly mentioned, but when we're talking about global patterns it's likely that the mechanisms that form them are going to be evolutionary as well. So they're going to involve things like speciation and extinction. And this means that the scale is also going to have a very long time scale as well as a big spatial scale. The problem is that nobody's entirely clear how large a scale is needed before ecology becomes macroecology. So really you can define macroecology however you like.