| WHY STUDY ECOLOGY IN TEMPORARY POOLS? |
LEON BLAUSTEIN A1 and STEVEN S. SCHWARTZ A2
A1 Community Ecology Laboratory, Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905 Israel
A2 Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078-3052 USA
Temporary pools, loosely and broadly defined in this journal issue to include all standing water bodies that intermittently dry, are collectively very common worldwide and diverse in physical and biological characteristics. We outline four fundamental reasons to study ecology in temporary pools. First, lessons learned about the effects of ephemerality on biotic processes in temporary pools are not necessarily limited to temporary pools. Ephemerality may have similar effects in other patchy, temporary habitats on biota such as mushrooms, fallen fruit, carrion, etc. Second, temporary pools provide a convenient system for testing ecological theory because they are small, abundant, have well-defined borders, and have simple food webs. Consequently, they are relatively easy to manipulate and replicate. Third, temporary pools are breeding habitats for medically important organisms including etiological agents, vectors, and reservoirs of diseases. Fourth, temporary pools, whose numbers and quality have been dramatically reduced by man over the past century, have a unique set of species in need of protection. Thus, temporary pool research should continue to play an important role in developing ecological theory and, conversely, ecological theory should be applied to solving problems associated with temporary pools.
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