This paper presents a multivariate textual analysis of more than 1300 papers on entropy in ecology. There are six main insights that emerged. First, there is a large body of literature that has addressed some aspect of entropy in ecology, most of which has been published in the last 5–10 years. Second, the vast majority of these papers focus on species distribution, species richness, relative abundance or trophic structure and not landscape-scale patterns or processes, pe se. Third, there have been few papers addressing landscape-level questions related to entropy. Fourth, the quantitative analysis with hierarchical clustering identified a strongly nested structure among papers that addressed entropy in ecology. Fifth, there is clear differentiation of papers focused on landscape-level applications of entropy from other papers, with landscape focused papers clustered together at each level of the hierarchy in a relatively small and closely associated group. Sixth, this group of landscape-focused papers was substructured between papers that explicitly adopted entropy measures to quantify the spatial pattern of landscape mosaics, often using variations on Boltzmann entropy, versus those that utilize Shannon entropy measures from information theory, which are not generally explicit in their assessment of spatial configuration. This review provides a comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the scope, trends and relationships among a large body of literature related to entropy in ecology and for the first time puts landscape ecological research on entropy into that context.
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