Ecology and Climate: Research Strategies and Implications

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Science  21 Jul 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5222, pp. 334-341
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5222.334


Natural and anthropogenic global changes are associated with substantial ecological disturbances. Multiscale interconnections among disciplines studying the biotic and abiotic effects of such disturbances are needed. Three research paradigms traditionally have been used and are reviewed here: scale-up, scale-down, and scale-up with embedded scale-down components. None of these approaches by themselves can provide the most reliable ecological assessments. A fourth research paradigm, called strategic cyclical scaling (SCS), is relatively more effective. SCS involves continuous cycling between large- and small-scale studies, thereby offering improved understanding of the behavior of complex environmental systems and allowing more reliable forecast capabilities for analyzing the ecological consequences of global changes.

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