Process, Mechanism, and Modeling in Macroecology

Connolly, Sean R. and Keith, Sally A. and Colwell, Robert K. and Rahbek, Carsten (2017) Process, Mechanism, and Modeling in Macroecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 32 (11). pp. 835-844. ISSN 0169-5347

[thumbnail of RE_ProcessModels_Final_Plain]
PDF (RE_ProcessModels_Final_Plain)
PURE_ProcessModels_Final_Plain.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (314kB)


Macroecology has traditionally relied on descriptive characterization of large-scale ecological patterns to offer narrative explanations for the origin and maintenance of those patterns. Only recently have macroecologists begun to employ models termed ‘process-based’ and ‘mechanistic’, in contrast to other areas of ecology, where such models have a longer history. Here, we define and differentiate between process-based and mechanistic features of models, and we identify and discuss important advantages of working with models possessing such features. We describe some of the risks associated with process-based and mechanistic model-centered research programs, and we propose ways to mitigate these risks. Giving process-based and mechanistic models a more central role in research programs can reinvigorate macroecology by strengthening the link between theory and data.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 32, 11, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2017.08.011
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? biogeographymechanistic modelsmacroecologymodel-based ecologyprocess-based modelsvirtual worldsecology, evolution, behavior and systematics ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
06 Oct 2017 19:34
Last Modified:
06 Jan 2024 00:20