MacArthur and Wilson’s equilibrium theory of island biogeography quickly became the paradigm of the field in the 1960s and has strongly influenced this and other disciplines of ecology and conservation biology for the past three decades. Recently, however, a growing number of ecologists have begun to question whether the theory remains a useful paradigm for modern ecology. We now have a much better appreciation for the complexity of nature and we study patterns that span a very broad range in spatial, temporal and ecological scales. At such scales, assumptions that communities are in equilibrium, that species, islands and intervening landscapes or seascapes are equivalent or homogeneous with respect to factors influencing immigration and extinction, and that in situ speciation can be overlooked become very tenuous. With this in mind, this and other papers of this special feature discuss the principal, conceptual shortcomings of the equilibrium theory and offer some modifications or alternatives to the theory that we hope will eventually lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the forces structuring insular communities.
Global Ecology and Biogeography – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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