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Metacommunity: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An ecological metacommunity can be described in a literal sense as a community of ecological communities. More formally, a metacommunity is defined as a set of local communities that are linked by dispersal of multiple, potentially interacting species.[1][2][3] The term is derived from the field of community ecology, which is primarily concerned with patterns of species distribution, abundance and interactions.

There are four theoretical frameworks, or unifying themes, that each detail specific mechanistic processes useful for predicting empirical community patterns. These are the patch dynamics, species sorting, source-sink (or mass effect) and neutral model frameworks. Patch dynamics models describe species composition among multiple, identical patches, such as islands, and emphasizes colonization-competitive ability trade-offs. Species sorting models describe variation in abundance and composition within the metacommunity due to individual species responses to environmental heterogeneity, such that certain local conditions may favor certain species and not others. This model represents the classical theories of the niche-centric era of G. Evelyn Hutchinson and Robert MacArthur. Source-sink models describe a framework in which dispersal and environmental heterogeneity interact to determine local and regional abundance and composition. This framework is derived from the metapopulation ecology term describing source-sink dynamics at the population level. Finally, the neutral perspective describes a framework where species are essentially equivalent in their competitive and dispersal abilities, and local and regional composition and abundance is determined primarily by stochastic demographic processes and dispersal limitation. The neutral perspective was recently popularized by Stephen Hubbell following his groundbreaking work on the unified neutral theory of biodiversity.


  1. ^ Gilpin, M.E. and I.A. Hanksi (1991). Metapopulation dynamics: Empirical and Theoretical Investigations. Academic Press, London.
  2. ^ Wilson, D.S. (1992). Complex interactions in metacommunities, with implications for biodiversity and higher levels of selection. Ecology, 73: 1984-2000.
  3. ^ Leibold, M.A., M. Holyoak, N. Moquet and others (2004). The metacommunity concept: a framework for multi-scale community ecology. Ecology Letters, 7: 601-613.

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

A metacommunity is a community of communities. The term Community has a predicate form — communicate.



Most people understand that Communication is essentially the use of language and common contexts to carry on some sort of conversation. In a community context, this interaction expands to envolve also transaction and the sharing of spaces (both virtual and physical), goods, services, ideas, designs, strategies, and a host of other things, some tangible and some abstract and intangible. A metacommunity, especially one that exists in the virtual world of the Internet, communicates on a new level within "cyberspace". This "reality" is new in Human experience, but has parallels in the Ancient World since writing began. Seeing communication as a predicate form for community is a key concept in understanding what a metacommunity is and what it can become.

Later on in this module, we will take a look at examples of metacommunities and try to figure out who and what comprises them, how they are formed and maintained and where they may take Humanity in the future. This module places itself within a university context that exists inside of an actual metacommunity that takes on the name of its host – The Wikimedia Foundation. See the lower left-hand corner of this page.

Virtual communities

From Phantom authority, self–selective recruitment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia by Andrea Ciffolilli:

Virtual communities are one of the building platforms of the so–called "new economy." Basically, they are associations of people able to meet and interact voluntarily on a network such as the Internet. A virtual community can be considered a potentially extraordinary new social structure in the sense that appears capable of guaranteeing unique outcomes in voluntary association. It cancels spatial distances and allows finding like–minded individuals outside the physical boundary of a circumscribed geographical area without modifying the basic principles governing voluntary association. So far, we have witnessed the outstanding effectiveness of virtual communities, especially in the creation of software; however, several other purposes can be reached by means of these organizations — from political mobilization to the production of several kinds of public or club goods.

Here, Ciffolilli's reference to public or club goods relates to the body of works comprising Wikipedia. What we want to do in this module is to extend the discussion to include a wider context that includes all of the Wikimedia Foundation projects, including Wikiversity. In the university context, in contrast to the encyclopedic context, self-referencing is for the most part acceptable. Defining Wikiversity as the research branch of the Wikimedia Metacommunity initiallizes a process of analysis and a course of study from within the subject of study – a Virtual community of practice.

Extending the context even further, we can include the aggregation of all of the community entities comprising what can be called the Open Source metacommunity including other foundations such as the Apache group, the Perl Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation. We shall examine the shared principles and language of this "potentially extraordinary new social structure" from both subjective and objective vantage points as Wikiversity participants.

Shared principles

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the open source movement is the adaptation and proliferation of the principle of giving and sharing. Contributors to Wikipedia, for example, understand that their efforts are without monetary compensation. The practice of rendering service in these circumstances is enigmatic to more conventional economic mindsets. The proprietary corporate world is many times at a loss to fathom why people would allow themselves to voluntarily forfeit their "intellectual property rights" to artifacts added to the cumulative content of a public Internet. This may be the core principle that establishes the open source movement as a viable metacommunity.

Other principles contribute to the cohesiveness of a growing movement. Another example of a binding principle is the new way of thinking about content and context. In the Wikipedia context, contributors understand that encyclopedic works must follow the established definition of what an encyclopedia is. Ciffolilli's "Phantom authority" idea suggests that the Wikipedia community is "ruled" by this priciple, thus an ever-increasing quality and quantity of encyclopedic content is added to the cumulative value of the Internet as a whole. The success of Wikipedia proves that money, in fact does NOT make the world go around.

The corporate mainstream, conversely, has a growing presence on the Internet. The argument can be made that the "business community" is also a metacommunity, but driven by a different set of principles. The idea that the Internet is itself a platform for a "new economy" has added to both vertical and horizontal dimensions of Human enterprise. Subjectively, Wikiversity takes on a role within the Wikimedia metacommunity context and the larger Internet context as a part of a "new economic form" dedicated to accumulating and presenting knowledge to an Internet public free of charge. This practice is antithetical to the principles of the corporate mainstream paradigm. How these two paradigms will interact is a subject in itself and a forum for an ongoing debate. Let's take a look...

Lab: Adding value to public goods

Our definition of the metacommunity asserts that Wikiversity has a relationship with Wikipedia in that both are members of a larger community, Wikimedia. This lab's purpose is to demonstrate how Wikiversity can use the university context to augment the encyclopedic context by increasing the value of a public good, namely the Wikipedia article – Open source vs. closed source. Furthermore, The Wikimedia metacommunity can assert its own position, through proof, in the wider debate described in the article, but existant on the larger Internet.

From within the university context, we can take a side on the issue and the basis for our bias is understood. This lab is to allow the Wikiversity participant to practice the principle of traversing contexts by being able to move to and from the encyclopedic to the universal and back.

Challenge: See and help improve w:Open source vs. closed source:

  • The neutrality of this article is disputed.
  • This article is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article.
  • Some information in this article or section has not been verified and may not be reliable.

Discussion: Use the talk page to help formulate Wikiversity's "official position" in the Open source vs. closed source debate.

Shared language

Planet-wide community-building depends upon multilingualism and faithful translation. The Transwiki-versity project has been established to help. You can help by tracking down relevance and linking contexts in your own creative style. Countless languages are used on Planet Earth but a few have become dominant for some reason or other.


Use the Multilingual worksheet to faithfully represent and discover what your native tongue has in common with others and what it has to offer in terms of culture that is unique and interesting to "foriegners". Participate in the Hello! project.

Collective Productivity

under construction

The Metacommunity module is a stub. You can help Wikiversity by expanding it.


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