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The Theory of Island Biogeography Revisited

The Theory of Island Biogeography Revisited

Jonathan B. Losos
Robert E. Ricklefs
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 494
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  • Book Info
    The Theory of Island Biogeography Revisited
    Book Description:

    Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson'sThe Theory of Island Biogeography, first published by Princeton in 1967, is one of the most influential books on ecology and evolution to appear in the past half century. By developing a general mathematical theory to explain a crucial ecological problem--the regulation of species diversity in island populations--the book transformed the science of biogeography and ecology as a whole. InThe Theory of Island Biogeography Revisited, some of today's most prominent biologists assess the continuing impact of MacArthur and Wilson's book four decades after its publication. Following an opening chapter in which Wilson reflects on island biogeography in the 1960s, fifteen chapters evaluate and demonstrate how the field has extended and confirmed--as well as challenged and modified--MacArthur and Wilson's original ideas. Providing a broad picture of the fundamental ways in which the science of island biogeography has been shaped by MacArthur and Wilson's landmark work,The Theory of Island Biogeography Revisitedalso points the way toward exciting future research.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3192-0
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Robert M. May

    Insofar as any one event can be said to mark the coming of age of ecological science as a discipline with a theoretical/conceptual base, it is the publication in 1967 of MacArthur and Wilson’sTheory of Island Biogeography,the inaugural “Monograph in Population Biology” in the Princeton University Press series.

    It is easy to forget how young a science ecology is. We did not start a systematic naming and codification of the plants and animals we share the world with until a century after Newton and the founding of the world’s major scientific academies (the canonical date for Linnaeus’sDe...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Jonathan B. Losos and Robert E. Ricklefs
  5. List of Contributors
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Island Biogeography in the 1960s THEORY AND EXPERIMENT
    (pp. 1-12)
    Edward O. Wilson

    When I was still a graduate student, in the early 1950s, an idea was circulating that I found inspirational. It originated with William Diller Matthew, a vertebrate paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History. In 1915 he had suggested that over long periods of Cenozoic time, the most successful of new mammalia genera and families have been arising from a central headquarters of macroevolution. Matthew concluded that the north temperate zone was that geographic cradle. The new clades were by and large intrinsically dominant over those originating in the southern continents. Radiating into diverse adaptive types, they spread outward...

    (pp. 13-51)
    Mark V. Lomolino, James H. Brown and Dov F. Sax

    The history of biogeography, like that of all natural sciences, is one whose exact origins are incredibly difficult if not impossible to pinpoint, and its conceptual threads split and again intertwine in a captivating, dynamic tapestry chronicling the geographic, ecological and evolutionary history of the world’s biota. While fascinating accounts in their own right, studies of the historical development of scientific theories (e.g., “discoveries” of the theory of natural selection by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, of continental drift by Alfred Lothar Wegener, or of the structure of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick), also provide valuable lessons...

  8. The MacArthur-Wilson Equilibrium Model A CHRONICLE OF WHAT IT SAID AND HOW IT WAS TESTED
    (pp. 52-87)
    Thomas W. Schoener

    The domain of this chapter is the development and testing of the MacArthur-Wilson Species Equilibrium Model. Naturally, most testing (as well as theoretical extension) followed rather closely the initial presentation (MacArthur and Wilson 1963, 1967) of this exciting, innovative conceptualization. My objective in this chapter is to focus mainly on this earlier research. As I discuss at the end of this chapter, papers citing the MacArthur-Wilson book have become very numerous in recent years. For this reason, an exhaustive review of current work is beyond the scope of my chapter. Rather, I focus on how the main aspects of the...

  9. A General Dynamic Theory of Oceanic Island Biogeography: Extending the MacArthur-Wilson Theory to Accommodate the Rise and Fall of Volcanic Islands
    (pp. 88-115)
    Robert J. Whittaker, Kostas A. Triantis and Richard J. Ladle

    MacArthur and Wilson’s (1963, 1967) dynamic equilibrium theory of island biogeography has a clear claim to be the most influential body of theory within ecological biogeography. Central to its continuing influence, their model invokes fundamental dynamic processes operating on populations, in order to explain key emergent patterns of system species richness, turnover, and endemism. As they envisaged, their theory has found application (with varying success) to all types of insular system, from microcosms to oceanic islands, and from ponds to habitat islands of woodland in “seas” of human-transformed habitat (Whittaker and Fernández-Palacios 2007).

    The aim embodied in the 1967 monograph...

  10. The Trophic Cascade on Islands
    (pp. 116-142)
    John Terborgh

    One of the bits of conventional wisdom about islands most of us accept implicitly is that island vegetation is relatively defenseless against introduced herbivores (Carlquist 1974, Bowen and van Vuren 1997). Scores of anecdotal accounts of denudation of islands by goats, rabbits, pigs, and other introduced herbivores lie behind this conventional wisdom. The reports are so numerous and consistent that one cannot doubt their collective veracity (Coblentz 1978, Courchamp et al. 1999). But the simplistic conclusion to be drawn from these anecdotes—that island floras typically evolve reduced defenses against herbivores—may be understating a more complex and interesting reality....

    (pp. 143-185)
    Robert D. Holt

    In this essay, I explore the interplay of two of the most important conceptual frameworks in community ecology—island biogeography and food web ecology (figure 6.1). My goal is to lay out steps toward their synthesis—with the ultimate objective being to stimulate the fuller development of what we might call “trophic island biogeography.” I start by sketching key insights at the heart of each paradigm, and point out ways they were already related (albeit for the most part implicitly, or sketchily) in the famed 1967 monograph by Robert MacArthur and and E.O. Wilson,The Theory of Island Biogeography. I...

  12. The Theories of Island Biogeography and Metapopulation Dynamics SCIENCE MARCHES FORWARD, BUT THE LEGACY OF GOOD IDEAS LASTS FOR A LONG TIME
    (pp. 186-213)
    Ilkka Hanski

    Two related notions about natural populations featured prominently in the writings of several ecologists in the 1950s. These authors realized that populations have a spatial structure, in the sense that a “population” in the wider landscape often consists of more or less distinct local populations. And secondly, these local populations may have more or less independent demographic fates, which has consequences for the dynamics of the regional population as a whole. Explaining their ideas at length inThe Distribution and Abundance of Animals(1954), the Australian ecologists H. G. (Herbert) Andrewartha and L. Charles Birch put an especially strong emphasis...

    (pp. 214-236)
    William F. Laurance

    Island Biogeography Theory (IBT; MacArthur and Wilson 1963, 1967) has profoundly influenced the study of biogeography, ecology, and even evolution (Janzen 1968, Losos 1996, Heaney 2000), and has also had an enormous impact on conservation biology. The theory has inspired much thinking about the importance of reserve size and connectivity in the maintenance of species diversity, and stimulated an avalanche of research on fragmented ecosystems. But, like all general models, IBT is a caricature of reality, capturing just a few important elements of a system while ignoring many others. Does it provide a useful model for understanding contemporary habitat fragmentation?...

    (pp. 237-263)
    Daniel Simberloff and Michael D. Collins

    Birds of the Solomon Islands have played a prominent role in two of the most influential ecological theories of the last forty years. Robert MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson cited these birds in both their 1963 paper introducing the dynamic equilibrium theory of island biogeography and their 1967 monograph on the theory (MacArthur and Wilson 1963, 1967). In 1976, Jared Diamond, Ernst Mayr, and Michael Gilpin published three papers on Solomon Islands avifaunas, interpreting them in terms of dynamic equilibrium turnover, relating the area and isolation of islands to hypothesized immigration and extinction curves (Diamond and Mayr 1976, Diamond et...

  15. Neutral Theory and the Theory of Island Biogeography
    (pp. 264-292)
    Stephen P. Hubbell

    Forty years ago the theory of island biogeography challenged the Huchinsonian niche assembly paradigm in community ecology by postulating that ecological communities on islands were nonequilibrium collections of species assembled and disassembled solely by immigration and local extinction. Although the implications of this postulate were not fully appreciated at that time, the theory’s elegantly simple graphical representation of the immigration-extinction equilibrium implied that species were ecologically equivalent—symmetric—in their probabilities of immigrating to an island and going extinct once there. Recasting the symmetry assumption on a per capita basis and adding speciation, the extended theory predicts not only species...

  16. Evolutionary Changes Following Island Colonization in Birds EMPIRICAL INSIGHTS INTO THE ROLES OF MICROEVOLUTIONARY PROCESSES
    (pp. 293-325)
    Sonya Clegg

    Divergence following island colonization stems from the action of microevolutionary processes, including drift, selection, gene flow, and mutation (Mayr 1954, Lande 1980, Barton 1998, Grant 1998). The suggestion that all of these processes can play a role in divergence, potentially acting separately or in concert, is uncontroversial. However the relative importance of each in natural systems is not generally agreed (Provine 1989, Barton 1998, Price 2008). Islands are regularly referred to as natural laboratories, and as such, studies of island forms have made major contributions to the development of general evolutionary theory (Grant 1998). Although the microevolutionary processes mentioned above...

  17. Sympatric Speciation, Immigration, and Hybridization in Island Birds
    (pp. 326-357)
    Peter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant

    In this chapter we pay homage to Ed Wilson as Naturalist. His influence on our research on speciation has been much greater than this chapter will reveal, so we begin by making one explicit connection. In theTheory of Island Biogeography, MacArthur and Wilson (1967) came close to discussing speciation in chapter 7 when referring to the prevailing view, associated with Mayr (1963), that given enough time isolated populations will diverge genetically to the point at which they are incapable of exchanging genes when finally they encounter each other. They made the insightful point that if islands could be reached...

    (pp. 358-387)
    Rosemary G. Gillespie and Bruce G. Baldwin

    The equilibrium theory of island biogeography (ETIB) was developed around the concept of islands formedde novo, with species colonizing and over time reaching a balance between immigration and extinction (MacArthur and Wilson 1967, see Schoener chapter, this volume). A great challenge to the theory has been its application to remote oceanic islands—those that are formed from beneath the ocean surface and are beyond the normal limits of dispersal for a taxon, where immigration occurs relatively rarely and speciation relatively frequently. Here we examine the interaction between speciation and immigration in community assembly on remote islands. Perhaps the most...

  19. Dynamics of Colonization and Extinction on Islands INSIGHTS FROM LESSER ANTILLEAN BIRDS
    (pp. 388-414)
    Robert E. Ricklefs

    In 1963, Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson published a paper inEvolution, which they titled “An equilibrium theory of insular zoogeography” (MacArthur and Wilson 1963). In this paper, MacArthur and Wilson suggested that the number of species on islands represented a balance between the addition of new species by colonization and the loss of established species by extinction. The most radical implication of this hypothesis was that the composition of an island’s biota continually changed. This view contrasted starkly with the more static concept held by David Lack (1976) and others, that islands accumulated species until they became...

  20. The Speciation-Area Relationship
    (pp. 415-438)
    Jonathan B. Losos and Christine E. Parent

    Inspired in part by the species-area relationship, MacArthur and Wilson (1967) proposed the equilibrium theory of island biogeography, which relied on the ecological processes of colonization and extinction to determine the species diversity of islands. Although widely influential, theirs was not the only ecologically oriented explanation of insular species richness. Lack (1976), for example, believed that island diversity was determined by the habitat diversity on islands; more distant islands had lower diversity because they tend to be impoverished in terms of habitat heterogeneity. These ideas, particularly the MacArthur and Wilson theory, dominated thinking about island species diversity throughout the latter...

  21. Ecological and Genetic Models of Diversity LESSONS ACROSS DISCIPLINES
    (pp. 439-462)
    Mark Vellend and John L. Orrock

    Ecology and evolutionary biology have been linked to varying degrees throughout their histories as scientific disciplines (Collins 1986, Holt 2005). As recognized by Darwin and countless biologists since, evolutionary change can hardly be understood without knowledge of ecological context, and many of our most cherished ecological patterns, such as relationships between species diversity and area or latitude, ultimately require evolutionary explanations, at least in part (Dobzhansky 1964, Schluter 2000, Ricklefs 2004). The degree of integration between ecological and evolutionary studies has waxed and waned over the years, but in response to the rise of molecular biology during the 1960s, a...

  22. Index
    (pp. 463-476)