Priority effects transcend scales and disciplines in biology

J.T. Stroud*, B.M. Delory*, E.M. Barnes, J.M. Chase, L. De Meester, J. Dieskau, T.N. Grainger, F.W. Halliday, P. Kardol, T.M. Knight, E. Ladouceur, C.J. Little, C. Roscher, J.M. Sarneel, V.M. Temperton, T.L.H. van Steijn, C.M. Werner, C.W. Wood, T. Fukami

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although primarily studied through the lens of community ecology, phenomena consistent with priority effects appear to be widespread across many different scenarios spanning a broad range of spatial, temporal, and biological scales. However, communication between these research fields is inconsistent and has resulted in a fragmented co-citation landscape, likely due to the diversity of terms used to refer to priority effects across these fields. We review these related terms, and the biological contexts in which they are used, to facilitate greater cross-disciplinary cohesion in research on priority effects. In breaking down these semantic barriers, we aim to provide a framework to better understand the conditions and mechanisms of priority effects, and their consequences across spatial and temporal scales.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in ecology & evolution
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2024


  • alternative stable states
  • biotic interactions
  • community assembly
  • historical contingency
  • priority effects
  • stochasticity


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