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Robert J. Whittaker

Bio: Robert J. Whittaker is an academic researcher from University of Oxford. The author has contributed to research in topics: Species richness & Insular biogeography. The author has an hindex of 61, co-authored 201 publications receiving 15669 citations. Previous affiliations of Robert J. Whittaker include Environmental Change Institute & University of Liège.


Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The case is articulated for a top-down approach to theory building, in which scale is addressed explicitly and in which different response variables are clearly distinguished, to articulate the case for a general theory of diversity that must necessarily cover many disparate phenomena, at various scales of analysis.
Abstract: Aim Current weaknesses of diversity theory include: a failure to distinguish different biogeographical response variables under the general heading of diversity; and a general failure of ecological theory to deal adequately with geographical scale. Our aim is to articulate the case for a top-down approach to theory building, in which scale is addressed explicitly and in which different response variables are clearly distinguished. Location The article draws upon both theoretical contributions and empirical analyses from all latitudes, focusing on terrestrial ecosystems and with some bias towards (woody) plants. Methods We review current diversity theory and terminology in relation to scale of applicability. As a starting point in developing a general theory, we take the issue of geographical gradients in species richness as a main theme and evaluate the extent to which commonly cited theories are likely to operate at scales from the macro down to the local. Results A degree of confusion surrounds the use of the terms alpha, beta and gamma diversity, and the terms local, landscape and macro-scale are preferred here as a more intuitive framework. The distinction between inventory and differentiation diversity is highlighted as important as, in terms of scale of analysis, are the concepts of focus and extent. The importance of holding area constant in analysis is stressed, as is the notion that different environmental factors exhibit measurable heterogeneity at different scales. Evaluation of several of the most common diversity theories put forward for the grand clines in species richness, indicates that they can be collapsed to dynamic hypotheses based on climate or historical explanations. The importance of the many ecological/ biological mechanisms that have been proposed is evident mainly at local scales of analysis, whilst at the macro-scale they are dependent largely upon climatic controls for their operation. Local communities have often been found not to be saturated, i.e. to be non-equilibrial. This is argued, perhaps counter-intuitively, to be entirely compatible with the persistence through time of macro-scale patterns of richness that are climatically determined. The review also incorporates recent developments in macroecology, Rapoport’s rule, trade-offs, and the importance of isolation, landscape impedance and geometric constraints on richness (the mid-domain effect) in generating richness patterns; highlighting those phenomena that are contributory to the first-order climatic pattern, and those, such as the geometric constraints, that may confound or obscure these patterns. Main conclusions A general theory of diversity must necessarily cover many disparate phenomena, at various scales of analysis, and cannot therefore be expressed in a simple formula, but individual elements of this general theory may be. In particular, it appears possible to capture in a dynamic climate-based model and ‘capacity rule’, the form of the

1,440 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The role played by biogeographical science in the emergence of conservation guidance is examined and the case for the recognition of Conservation Biogeography as a key subfield of conservation biology delimited as both a substantial body of theory and analysis is made.
Abstract: There is general agreement among scientists that biodiversity is under assault on a global basis and that species are being lost at a greatly enhanced rate. This article examines the role played by biogeographical science in the emergence of conservation guidance and makes the case for the recognition of Conservation Biogeography as a key subfield of conservation biology delimited as: the application of biogeographical principles, theories, and analyses, being those concerned with the distributional dynamics of taxa individually and collectively, to problems concerning the conservation of biodiversity. Conservation biogeography thus encompasses both a substantial body of theory and analysis, and some of the most prominent planning frameworks used in conservation. Considerable advances in conservation guidelines have been made over the last few decades by applying biogeographical methods and principles. Herein we provide a critical review focussed on the sensitivity to assumptions inherent in the applications we examine. In particular, we focus on four inter-related factors: (i) scale dependency (both spatial and temporal); (ii) inadequacies in taxonomic and distributional data (the so-called Linnean and Wallacean shortfalls); (iii) effects of model structure and parameterisation; and (iv) inadequacies of theory. These generic problems are illustrated by reference to studies ranging from the application of historical biogeography, through island biogeography, and complementarity analyses to bioclimatic envelope modelling. There is a great deal of uncertainty inherent in predictive analyses in conservation biogeography and this area in particular presents considerable challenges. Protected area planning frameworks and their resulting map outputs are amongst the most powerful and influential applications within conservation biogeography, and at the global scale are characterised by the production, by a small number of prominent NGOs, of bespoke schemes, which serve both to mobilise funds and channel efforts in a highly targeted fashion. We provide a simple typology of protected area planning frameworks, with particular reference to the global scale, and provide a brief critique of some of their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we discuss the importance, especially at regional scales, of developing more responsive analyses and models that integrate pattern (the compositionalist approach) and processes (the functionalist approach) such as range collapse and climate change, again noting the sensitivity of outcomes to starting assumptions. We make the case for the greater engagement of the biogeographical community in a programme of evaluation and refinement of all such schemes to test their robustness and their sensitivity to alternative conservation priorities and goals.

1,030 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
04 Jan 2013-Science
TL;DR: A global map of zoogeographic regions is generated by combining data on the distributions and phylogenetic relationships of 21,037 species of amphibians, birds, and mammals, and it is shown that spatial turnover in the phylogenetic composition of vertebrate assemblages is higher in the Southern than in the Northern Hemisphere.
Abstract: Modern attempts to produce biogeographic maps focus on the distribution of species, and the maps are typically drawn without phylogenetic considerations. Here, we generate a global map of zoogeographic regions by combining data on the distributions and phylogenetic relationships of 21,037 species of amphibians, birds, and mammals. We identify 20 distinct zoogeographic regions, which are grouped into 11 larger realms. We document the lack of support for several regions previously defined based on distributional data and show that spatial turnover in the phylogenetic composition of vertebrate assemblages is higher in the Southern than in the Northern Hemisphere. We further show that the integration of phylogenetic information provides valuable insight on historical relationships among regions, permitting the identification of evolutionarily unique regions of the world.

1,014 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The role of agroforestry systems can play an important role in biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes and alleviating resource-use pressure on conservation areas is examined.
Abstract: As rates of deforestation continue to rise in many parts of the tropics, the international conservation community is faced with the challenge of finding approaches which can reduce deforestation and provide rural livelihoods in addition to conserving biodiversity. Much of modern-day conservation is motivated by a desire to conserve 'pristine nature' in protected areas, while there is growing recognition of the long-term human involvement in forest dynamics and of the importance of conservation outside protected areas. Agroforestry - intentional management of shade trees with agricultural crops - has the potential for providing habitats outside formally protected land, connecting nature reserves and alleviating resource-use pressure on conservation areas. Here we examine the role of agroforestry systems in maintaining species diversity and conclude that these systems can play an important role in biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes.

637 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
15 Feb 2002-Science
TL;DR: The marked gradient in species diversity between the equator and the poles suggests a simple environmental explanation for this phenomenon as mentioned in this paper, however, the environmental variables driving species diversity are different depending on the size and time scale over which species diversity is measured.
Abstract: The marked gradient in species diversity between the equator (where it is highest) and the poles (where it is lowest) suggests a simple environmental explanation for this phenomenon. However, as Willis and Whittaker point out in their Perspective, the environmental variables driving species diversity are different depending on the size and time scale over which species diversity is measured.

480 citations


Cited by
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Journal ArticleDOI
24 Feb 2000-Nature
TL;DR: A ‘silver bullet’ strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on ‘biodiversity hotspots’ where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat, is proposed.
Abstract: Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify 'biodiversity hotspots' where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a 'silver bullet' strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world's species at risk.

24,867 citations

28 Jul 2005
TL;DR: PfPMP1)与感染红细胞、树突状组胞以及胎盘的单个或多个受体作用,在黏附及免疫逃避中起关键的作�ly.
Abstract: 抗原变异可使得多种致病微生物易于逃避宿主免疫应答。表达在感染红细胞表面的恶性疟原虫红细胞表面蛋白1(PfPMP1)与感染红细胞、内皮细胞、树突状细胞以及胎盘的单个或多个受体作用,在黏附及免疫逃避中起关键的作用。每个单倍体基因组var基因家族编码约60种成员,通过启动转录不同的var基因变异体为抗原变异提供了分子基础。

18,940 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Preface to the Princeton Landmarks in Biology Edition vii Preface xi Symbols used xiii 1.
Abstract: Preface to the Princeton Landmarks in Biology Edition vii Preface xi Symbols Used xiii 1. The Importance of Islands 3 2. Area and Number of Speicies 8 3. Further Explanations of the Area-Diversity Pattern 19 4. The Strategy of Colonization 68 5. Invasibility and the Variable Niche 94 6. Stepping Stones and Biotic Exchange 123 7. Evolutionary Changes Following Colonization 145 8. Prospect 181 Glossary 185 References 193 Index 201

14,171 citations

Journal Article
Fumio Tajima1
30 Oct 1989-Genomics
TL;DR: It is suggested that the natural selection against large insertion/deletion is so weak that a large amount of variation is maintained in a population.

11,521 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: An overview of recent advances in species distribution models, and new avenues for incorporating species migration, population dynamics, biotic interactions and community ecology into SDMs at multiple spatial scales are suggested.
Abstract: In the last two decades, interest in species distribution models (SDMs) of plants and animals has grown dramatically. Recent advances in SDMs allow us to potentially forecast anthropogenic effects on patterns of biodiversity at different spatial scales. However, some limitations still preclude the use of SDMs in many theoretical and practical applications. Here, we provide an overview of recent advances in this field, discuss the ecological principles and assumptions underpinning SDMs, and highlight critical limitations and decisions inherent in the construction and evaluation of SDMs. Particular emphasis is given to the use of SDMs for the assessment of climate change impacts and conservation management issues. We suggest new avenues for incorporating species migration, population dynamics, biotic interactions and community ecology into SDMs at multiple spatial scales. Addressing all these issues requires a better integration of SDMs with ecological theory.

5,620 citations