We find the patterns intriguing for several reasons. This is not because we are surprised by competition as a process. There is abundant evidence that similar species compete. What is interesting is the scale and extent over which competition plays out. At issue was not whether competition is intensive enough to affect species abundance at small scales, but rather was it extensive enough to shape the large-scale patterns of nature? Our maps discuss patterns across millions of square kilometers. Our impression of papers in community ecology was that this debate led to small-scale, experimental studies with fewer species, eschewing the issues at larger scales. If so, that would be unfortunate. Biogeographical patterns have exercised considerable historical significance. The checkerboard of the Galápagos mockingbirds and patterns of mutual exclusivity in the Amazon and insular Southeast Asia were vital clues that gave Darwin and Wallace their ideas about evolution. We assert that community ecologists now have powerful software and hardware tools to uncover subtle patterns in nature.
Keywords: biogeography, checkerboard, community ecology, null hypothesis, patterns