Michael Heads is a Research Associate at the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY, USA. He is also an independent scholar living in New Zealand. He has carried out most of his field work in rainforest and in alpine areas and has authored over 70 publications in the areas of biogeography and taxonomy, including his most recent book, Molecular Panbiogeography of the Tropics (2012).
McPeek explores the ecological performance characteristics needed for invasibility and coexistence of species in complex networks of species interactions. This species interaction framework is then extended to examine the ecological dynamics of natural selection that drive coevolution of interacting species in these complex interaction networks. The models of natural selection resulting from species interactions are used to evaluate the ecological conditions that foster diversification at multiple trophic levels. Analyses show that diversification depends on the ecological context in which species interactions occur and the types of traits that define the mechanisms of those species interactions. Lastly, looking at the mechanisms of speciation that affect species richness and diversity at various spatial scales and the consequences of past climate change over the Quaternary period, McPeek considers how metacommunity structure is shaped at regional and biogeographic scales.
Integrating evolutionary theory into the study of community ecology, Evolutionary Community Ecology provides a new framework for predicting how communities are organized and how they may change over time.
Mathew Leibold and Jonathan Chase argue that the relative importance of these processes depends on the characteristics of the organisms, the strengths and types of their interactions, the degree of habitat heterogeneity, the rates of dispersal, and the scale at which the system is observed. Using this synthetic perspective, they explore metacommunity patterns in time and space, including patterns of coexistence, distribution, and diversity. Leibold and Chase demonstrate how these processes and patterns are altered by micro- and macroevolution, traits and phylogenetic relationships, and food web interactions. They then use this scale-explicit perspective to illustrate how metacommunity processes are essential for understanding macroecological and biogeographical patterns as well as ecosystem-level processes.
Moving seamlessly across scales and subdisciplines, Metacommunity Ecology is an invaluable reference, one that offers a more integrated approach to ecological patterns and processes.