The Classification of Habitats



In The Game of chess, counted by most people as capable of stretching parts of the intellect pretty thoroughly, there are are only two sorts of squares, each replicated thirty-two times, on which only twelve species of players having among them six different forms of movement and two colours perform in populations of not more than eight of any one sort. Out Wytham Hill, described in the last chapter as a small sample of midland England on mostly calcareous soils but with a full range of wetness, there are something like a hundred kinds of ‘habitat squares’ (even taken on a rather broad classification, and ignoring the individual habitat units provided by hundreds of separate species of plants) most of which are replicated inexactly thousands of times, though some only once or twice, and inhabited altogether by up to 5000 species of animals, perhaps even more, and with populations running into very many millions. Even the Emperor Akbar might have felt hesitation in playing a living chess game on the great courtyard of his palace near Agra, if each square had contained upwards of two hundred different kinds of chessmen. What are we to do with a situation of this magnitude and complexity? It seems, indeed it certainly is, a formidable operation to prepare a blueprint of its organization that can be used scientifically. However, that is what I have been trying to do, and the primary ideas about it are set forth in this chapter.


Green Plant Bare Ground Animal Community Field Type Open Ground 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Charles S. Elton 1966

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