The human body is inhabited by billions of microbial cells and these microbial symbionts play critical roles in human health. Human-associated microbial communities are diverse, and the structure of these communities is variable across body habitats, through time, and between individuals. We can apply concepts developed by plant and animal ecologists to better understand and predict the spatial and temporal patterns in these communities. Due to methodological limitations and the largely unknown natural history of most microbial taxa, this integration of ecology into research on the human microbiome is still in its infancy. However, such integration will yield a deeper understanding of the role of the microbiome in human health and an improved ability to test ecological concepts that are more difficult to test in plant and animal systems.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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