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Scale-independent biological processes in the marine environment
Aronson, R.B. (1994). Scale-independent biological processes in the marine environment. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 32: 435-460
In: Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. Aberdeen University Press/Allen & Unwin: London. ISSN 0078-3218, more
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  • Aronson, R.B.

    Scale is important in ecology and evolution, yet available evidence indicates that a number of biological processes are scale-independent. The morphology and abundance of prey respond to local increases in predation pressure, and those responses scale up to produce analogous evolutionary patterns. The onshore-offshore direction of increasing predation in the Mesozoic is mirrored in ecological time and space by onshore-offshore gradients in human predation within modern marine food chains. There is also evidence of scale-independence in herbivore-algal interactions and in competitive interactions among bryozoans. Bioturbation effects may also be scale-independent but the evidence is incomplete. Data on evolutionary diversification and extinction generally have been interpreted as demonstrating the effects of scale. At least some aspects of diversification and extinction prove, however, to be scale-independent when considered from a system-wide perspective rather than from the perspective of the affected organisms. If biological processes are generally scale-independent, two persistent theoretical problems, the origin of high diversity in the deep-sea and succession in reef biotas, may have relatively simple solutions. Scale-independent biological processes may be a consequence of self-organized criticality, in which the threshold behaviour of large, interactive systems leads to self-similar dynamics.

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