Progress in Botany

Volume 62 of the series Progress in Botany pp 399-450

The Search for Generality in Studies of Disturbance and Ecosystem Dynamics

  • Peter S. WhiteAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • , Anke JentschAffiliated withDepartment of Experimental and Systems Ecology, University of Bielefeld

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Studies of disturbance have a long tradition in vegetation ecology (Cooper 1926; Raup 1941; White 1979) and have increased lly during the last 30 years (Dayton 1971; Heinselman 1973; Levin and Paine 1974; Borman and Likens 1979; Sousa 1979a,b, 1984; Pickett 1980; Pickett and White 1985; Van der Maarel 1993; Bornette and Amoros 1996; Paine et al. 1998; Freiich and Reich 1999; White et al. 1999). We have learned a tremendous amount about the significance of disturbance as an ecological factor in various habitats and communities (Knapp 1974; Grubb 1977; Miles 1979; Oliver 1981; Pickett and White 1985; Goldberg 1988; Frelich and Lorimer 1991; Milton et al. 1997), about disturbance regimes (Romme 1982; Turner et al. 1993; White et al. 1999), about functional adaptations of plants (Garcia-Mora et al. 1999; Walker et al. 1999), about responses of ecosystems (Bornette and Amoros 1996; Johnson et al. 1998; Engelmark et al. 1999) and about restoring disturbance as an ecosystem process (White and Walker 1997; Covington et al. 1999). During this period, a few theories and synthetic concepts have been proposed, but we do not yet have an inclusive general paradigm for this important body of work.