Date of this Version
Community ecology is an inherently complicated field, confounded by the conflicting use of fundamental terms. Nearly two decades ago, Fauth etal. (1996) demonstrated that imprecise language led to the virtual synonymy of important terms and so attempted to clearly define four keywords in community ecology; community, assemblage, guild, and ensemble. We revisit Fauth etal.'s conclusion and discuss how the use of these terms has changed over time since their review. An updated analysis of term definition from a selection of popular ecological textbooks suggests that definitions have drifted away from those encountered pre-1996, and slightly disagreed with results from a survey of 100 ecology professionals (comprising of academic professors, nonacademic PhDs, graduate and undergraduate biology students). Results suggest that confusion about these terms is still widespread in ecology. We conclude with clear suggestions for definitions of each term to be adopted hereafter to provide greater cohesion among research groups.
Stroud, James T.; Bush, Michael R.; Ladd, Mark C.; Nowicki, Robert J.; Shantz, Andrew A.; and Sweatman, Jennifer, "Is a community still a community? Reviewing definitions of key terms in community ecology" (2015). Department of Biological Sciences. Paper 79.