Habitat Structure: The Evolution and Diversification of a Complex Topic

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Book Chapter

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Habitat Selection, Habitat Structure, Ecological Role, Bird Community, Coralline Alga

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Habitat structure, by definition, is a component of every ecological study. This book deals with a particular type of structure, that provided by the arrangement of objects in space. Even restricted in this way, habitat structure conjures up a multitude of images in the minds of ecologists, from concrete topographic features to near-abstractions like ‘patches’, ‘mosaics’, and ‘gradients’. The variety of types of physical habitat structure has, in turn, spawned a wealth of narrowly defined terms meant to convey subtle aspects of the relationship between organism and structure. While these terms may do exactly what was intended of them, we suggest that the gain in precision is offset by a loss in generality. The various subdisciplines of ecology adopt terminologies, and experimental techniques related to them, largely for the cognoscente. ‘Profile of vegetational density’ and ‘canopy surface structure’, for instance, may end up having explicit meaning for a particular ecologist, whereas ‘substrate heterogeneity’ and ‘enemy free space’ may not. Yet, all reside under the broad umbrella of habitat structure.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Habitat Structure: The Evolution and Diversification of a Complex Topic, in S.S. Bell, E.E. McCoy & H.R. Mushinsky (Eds.), Habitat Structure: the Physical Arrangement of Objects in Space, Springer, p. 3-27