Organisms as Ecosystem Engineers

  • Clive G. Jones
  • John H. Lawton
  • Moshe Shachak


Interactions between organisms are a major determinant of the distribution and abundance of species. Ecology textbooks (e.g., Ricklefs 1984, Krebs 1985, Begon et al. 1990) summarise these important interactions as intra- and interspecific competition for abiotic and biotic resources, predation, parasitism and mutualism. Conspicuously lacking from the list of key processes in most text books is the role that many organisms play in the creation, modification and maintenance of habitats. These activities do not involve direct trophic interactions between species, but they are nevertheless important and common. The ecological literature is rich in examples of habitat modification by organisms, some of which have been extensively studied (e.g. Thayer 1979, Naiman et al. 1988).


Ecosystem Management Ecosystem Engineer Keystone Species Termite Mound Ecological Engineering 
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© Oikos 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clive G. Jones
  • John H. Lawton
  • Moshe Shachak

There are no affiliations available

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