, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 283–286 | Cite as

Community ecology made easy

Mark Vellend: The theory of ecological communities. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016, xix+229pp, US$50HB
  • Max W. DresowEmail author
  • Jake J. Grossman
Book Review

Reflecting on the state of community ecology, John Lawton rendered a famously uncharitable verdict. Community ecology “is a mess,” riddled with “so much contingency that useful generalisations are hard to find” (Lawton 1999, 178). Nearly two decades later, the field presents a similar aspect. Community ecology is “widely perceived as…a theoretical and conceptual bucket case,” Mark Vellend observes (42). Over the past century, its practitioners have devised literally hundreds of conceptual and theoretical models intended to explain patterns of diversity, abundance, and composition in ecological communities. However, because nearly all these models are “relevant to at least one type of community somewhere on earth, the list of explanations … only ever gets longer, never shorter” (2). Vellend’s new book, The Theory of Ecological Communities,sets out to reframe this tangle of models in a way that highlights linkages between various extant theoretical ideas. In it, he brings together...


  1. Lawton, J.H. 1999. Are there general laws in ecology? Oikos 84: 177–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Vellend, M. 2010. Conceptual synthesis in community ecology. Quarterly Review of Biology 85 (2): 183–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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