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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.


(c) 2015 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Funding for this project was provided by Florida Internat ional University Open Access Publishing Fund, NSF grant OCE-1130786, NSF grant DGE-1038321, and a Fairchild Tropical Botani cal Gardens Student Research Fellowship.