Spatial Organization of Desert Rodent Communities

Part of the Adaptations of Desert Organisms book series (DESERT ORGAN.)


A general definition of community is “any assemblage of populations of living organisms in a prescribed area or habitat” (Krebs 1994, p. 431). This definition is too broad. A random species collection could also be considered to be a community according to this definition. However, a community should be a system (e.g. a set of interacting elements sensu Von Bertalanffy 1968) to be a subject for scientific analysis. This understanding of the term “community” was developed by the “evolutionary ecology” school founded by Hutchinson (1957) and MacArthur (1958). According to this, a community is a system of co-occurring interacting populations of different species of one taxon of indeterminate size that constitutes one or several contiguous trophic levels (but see Drake 1990). Competition was originally considered to be the main type of interaction structuring a community, according to the concept of limiting similarity (MacArthur and Levins 1967; MacArthur 1970; May and MacArthur 1972). This concept has been strongly criticized (Rosenzweig 1974; Roughgarden 1976; Turelli 1978) and is no longer a dominant paradigm in ecology. Nevertheless, many theories that are attempting to replace it (e.g. Roughgarden 1976; Rosenzweig 1979a,b, 1987a,b, 1991,1995; Rosenzweig and Abramsky 1986; Pimm and Rosenzweig 1981, but see Wiens 1989) still rely on interspecific competition as a main motive force.


Spatial Organization Interspecific Competition Niche Breadth Gobi Desert Chihuahuan Desert 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ramon Science Center Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevMizpe RamonIsrael
  2. 2.Severtzov Institute of Ecology and EvolutionRussian Academy of ScienceMoscowRussian Federation

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