Niches and neutrality: community ecology for entomologists



The study of interacting sets of species within ecosystems – community ecology – is generally less familiar to entomologists than the more species-centric studies of population and behavioural ecology. Here, I review some key areas of community ecology that should be of interest and concern to entomologists. The contrasting current models of community assembly – based, on the one hand, on ideas of neutral replacement and, on the other, of resource-based niche partitioning – are discussed. A synthetic version that identifies a stochastic/deterministic switch point based on a characteristic spatial scale for each community studied is presented as a possible way of combining these two approaches.