At present the problem of scaling up from controlled experiments (necessarily at a small spatial scale) to questions of regional or global importance is perhaps the most pressing issue in ecology. Most of the proposed techniques recommend iterative cycling between theory and experiment. We present a graphical technique that facilitates this cycling by allowing the scope of experiments, surveys, and natural history observations to be compared to the scope of models and theory. We apply the scope analysis to the problem of understanding the population dynamics of a bivalve exposed to environmental stress at the scale of a harbour. Previous lab and field experiments were found not to be 1:1 scale models of harbour-wide processes. Scope analysis allowed small scale experiments to be linked to larger scale surveys and to a spatially explicit model of population dynamics.
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Scale-up of ecological experiments: Density variation in the mobile bivalve Macomona liliana