Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions

William J. Sutherland, Robert P. Freckleton, H. Charles J. Godfray, Steven R. Beissinger, Tim Benton, Duncan D. Cameron, Yohay Carmel, David A. Coomes, Tim Coulson, Mark C. Emmerson, Rosemary S. Hails, Graeme C. Hays, Dave J. Hodgson, Michael J. Hutchings, David Johnson, Julia P.G. Jones, Matt J. Keeling, Hanna Kokko, William E. Kunin, Xavier LambinOwen T. Lewis, Yadvinder Malhi, Nova Mieszkowska, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Ken Norris, Albert B. Phillimore, Drew W. Purves, Jane M. Reid, Daniel C. Reuman, Ken Thompson, Justin M.J. Travis, Lindsay A. Turnbull, David A. Wardle, Thorsten Wiegand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

350 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fundamental ecological research is both intrinsically interesting and provides the basic knowledge required to answer applied questions of importance to the management of the natural world. The 100th anniversary of the British Ecological Society in 2013 is an opportune moment to reflect on the current status of ecology as a science and look forward to high-light priorities for future work. To do this, we identified 100 important questions of fundamental importance in pure ecology. We elicited questions from ecologists working across a wide range of systems and disciplines. The 754 questions submitted (listed in the online appendix) from 388 participants were narrowed down to the final 100 through a process of discussion, rewording and repeated rounds of voting. This was done during a two-day workshop and thereafter. The questions reflect many of the important current conceptual and technical pre-occupations of ecology. For example, many questions concerned the dynamics of environmental change and complex ecosystem interactions, as well as the interaction between ecology and evolution. The questions reveal a dynamic science with novel subfields emerging. For example, a group of questions was dedicated to disease and micro-organisms and another on human impacts and global change reflecting the emergence of new subdisciplines that would not have been foreseen a few decades ago. The list also contained a number of questions that have perplexed ecologists for decades and are still seen as crucial to answer, such as the link between population dynamics and life-history evolution. Synthesis. These 100 questions identified reflect the state of ecology today. Using them as an agenda for further research would lead to a substantial enhancement in understanding of the discipline, with practical relevance for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Ecology
Volume101
Issue number1
Early online date21 Dec 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

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ecology
ecologists
ecosystems
ecosystem function
global change
anthropogenic effect
anthropogenic activities
occupation
environmental change
population dynamics
life history
biodiversity
microorganisms
synthesis
ecosystem
science

Keywords

  • community ecology
  • ecology
  • ecosystems
  • evolutionary ecology
  • population ecology
  • research priorities

Cite this

Sutherland, W. J., Freckleton, R. P., Godfray, H. C. J., Beissinger, S. R., Benton, T., Cameron, D. D., ... Wiegand, T. (2013). Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions. Journal of Ecology, 101(1), 58-67. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12025

Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions. / Sutherland, William J.; Freckleton, Robert P.; Godfray, H. Charles J.; Beissinger, Steven R.; Benton, Tim; Cameron, Duncan D.; Carmel, Yohay; Coomes, David A.; Coulson, Tim; Emmerson, Mark C.; Hails, Rosemary S.; Hays, Graeme C.; Hodgson, Dave J.; Hutchings, Michael J.; Johnson, David; Jones, Julia P.G.; Keeling, Matt J.; Kokko, Hanna; Kunin, William E.; Lambin, Xavier; Lewis, Owen T.; Malhi, Yadvinder; Mieszkowska, Nova; Milner-Gulland, E.J.; Norris, Ken; Phillimore, Albert B.; Purves, Drew W.; Reid, Jane M.; Reuman, Daniel C.; Thompson, Ken; Travis, Justin M.J.; Turnbull, Lindsay A.; Wardle, David A.; Wiegand, Thorsten.

In: Journal of Ecology, Vol. 101, No. 1, 01.2013, p. 58-67.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sutherland, WJ, Freckleton, RP, Godfray, HCJ, Beissinger, SR, Benton, T, Cameron, DD, Carmel, Y, Coomes, DA, Coulson, T, Emmerson, MC, Hails, RS, Hays, GC, Hodgson, DJ, Hutchings, MJ, Johnson, D, Jones, JPG, Keeling, MJ, Kokko, H, Kunin, WE, Lambin, X, Lewis, OT, Malhi, Y, Mieszkowska, N, Milner-Gulland, EJ, Norris, K, Phillimore, AB, Purves, DW, Reid, JM, Reuman, DC, Thompson, K, Travis, JMJ, Turnbull, LA, Wardle, DA & Wiegand, T 2013, 'Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions', Journal of Ecology, vol. 101, no. 1, pp. 58-67. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12025
Sutherland WJ, Freckleton RP, Godfray HCJ, Beissinger SR, Benton T, Cameron DD et al. Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions. Journal of Ecology. 2013 Jan;101(1):58-67. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12025
Sutherland, William J. ; Freckleton, Robert P. ; Godfray, H. Charles J. ; Beissinger, Steven R. ; Benton, Tim ; Cameron, Duncan D. ; Carmel, Yohay ; Coomes, David A. ; Coulson, Tim ; Emmerson, Mark C. ; Hails, Rosemary S. ; Hays, Graeme C. ; Hodgson, Dave J. ; Hutchings, Michael J. ; Johnson, David ; Jones, Julia P.G. ; Keeling, Matt J. ; Kokko, Hanna ; Kunin, William E. ; Lambin, Xavier ; Lewis, Owen T. ; Malhi, Yadvinder ; Mieszkowska, Nova ; Milner-Gulland, E.J. ; Norris, Ken ; Phillimore, Albert B. ; Purves, Drew W. ; Reid, Jane M. ; Reuman, Daniel C. ; Thompson, Ken ; Travis, Justin M.J. ; Turnbull, Lindsay A. ; Wardle, David A. ; Wiegand, Thorsten. / Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions. In: Journal of Ecology. 2013 ; Vol. 101, No. 1. pp. 58-67.
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