Trends in the evolution of ecology: “Spain is different”
- Grupo de Ecoloxía Evolutiva, Depto. de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Univ. de Vigo, EUET Forestal, Campus Universitario, 36005 Pontevedra, Spain
Abstract. During the last fifty years ecology has matured as a scientific discipline. In this paper I analyse the temporal development of the paradigm based on physical systems (the ecosystem paradigm), and the evolutionary ecology paradigm. I first analyse the contents of 61 textbooks to calculate the relative importance of ecosystem and evolutionary ecology in the training of new generations of ecologists. Results indicate that the evolutionary approach is becoming more important since 1980, and now most textbooks dedicate 10–20% of their pages to evolutionary concepts. In a second analysis I searched the names of ecology departments in universities around the world, and found out conspicuous differences between USA, where 43% of addresses associate ecology and evolution or behaviour on the same department, and Europe, where only 10% of ecology departments also include a reference to evolution or behaviour in their name. In both analyses Spain seems to follow only the ecosystem paradigm, because Spanish textbooks dedicate almost no pages to evolutionary concepts, and there is not a single university department that includes ecology and evolution. A further bibliometric study confirmed that Spanish ecologists prefer to publish their research in general ecology journals, and are under-represented in evolutionary ecology journals. I discuss the importance of historical factors on the development of paradigms of ecology, and the special case of Spain, likely due to the influence of pioneers working in oceanography, limnology and geography.