JOSEPH H. CONNELL Department of Biological Sciences, University of Ca lifornia Santa Barbara, California "The ultimate goal of an ecological survey should be to discover and measure the main dynamic relations between all organisms living on an area over some period of time" (Elton 31). This is a tall order but it describes the aim of many "community" ecologists pretty well. Most studies have not got past the first stage of iden tifying and describing the community, because of the very great difficulties of sampling and taxonomy ( Fager 32). Even then, direct measurement of dynamic relations is difficult. Recourse is sometimes made to fitting available data, such as the abundances of the different species, to various mathematical distributions. If the data fit a particular model, the underlying assumptions of the model are then presumed to represent the mechanisms which produced the abundances. However, where it is possible to measure directly the dynamic relations between organisms and their physical and biological environment, this is to be preferred to such indirect methods. Such direct measurement is difficult in most habitats, but it is possible in a few. The marine rocky intertidal is one of these. Because it is so
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1972
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