10. Little, C.J., Rizzuto, M., Luhring, T.M., Monk, J.D., Nowicki, R.J., Paseka, R.E., Stegen, J.C., Symons, C.C., Taub, F.B., Yan, J.D.L. (2022) Movement with Meaning: Integrating Information into Meta-Ecology. Oikos, 2022(8), e08892. Editor's Choice


Fluxes of matter, energy, and information over space and time contribute to ecosystems’ functioning. The meta-ecosystem framework addresses the dynamics of ecosystems linked by these fluxes, however, to date, meta-ecosystem research focused solely on fluxes of energy and matter, neglecting information. This is problematic due to organisms’ varied responses to information, which influence local ecosystem dynamics and can alter spatial flows of energy and matter. Furthermore, information itself can move between ecosystems. Therefore, information should contribute to meta-ecosystem dynamics, such as stability and productivity. Specific subdisciplines of ecology currently consider different types of information (e.g., social and cultural information, natural and artificial light or sound, body condition, genotype, and phenotype). Yet neither the spatiotemporal distribution of information nor its perception are currently accounted for in general ecological theories. Here, we provide a roadmap to synthesize information and meta-ecosystem ecology. We begin by defining information in a meta-ecological context. We then review and identify challenges to be addressed in developing information meta-ecology. Finally, we present new hypotheses for how information could impact dynamics across scales of spatio-temporal and biological organization.

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