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Frontiers of Biogeography

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Just bird food? – On the value of invertebrate macroecology

  • Author(s): Beck, Jan
  • McCain, Christy M.
  • et al.

Recent reviews have highlighted the dominance of vertebrates and plants in macroecological and biogeographical publications while invertebrates are underrepresented despite their global ecological relevance and vast diversity. We argue that although the study of invertebrate biogeography and macroecology has data limitations and thus lags behind in global research coverage, it has left a strong mark on the development of the discipline and has continuing potential to significantly shape its future. First, we detail how historical collecting and identification impediments caused decelerated progress at the macro-scale. Second, we show the quantitative impact of early invertebrate studies in contrast to lowered current representation. Third, we discuss ways in which authors, editors, and reviewers may foster invertebrate studies in macroecology. These include an honest appreciation of the value of study replication, of understudied but diverse taxa, and of the ecological traits that make invertebrates unique in comparison to vertebrates (e.g., wider array of life cycles, symbioses, and ecological niches), as well as the expanded potential for experimentation and manipulation.

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