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This paper is an introduction to the special issue of the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society entitled OCBIL theory: a new science for old ecosystems. Firstly, we elaborate on the origins and development of OCBIL theory, which argues that landscape age, climatic buffering and soil fertility are key environmental dimensions shaping ecological and evolutionary processes across different scales. We then consider the 21 contributions made in this special issue in terms of cutting edge advances in the Southern Hemisphere that test, explore and apply aspects of OCBIL theory at the end of its first decade of formal publication. More attempts at refutation are urged, as untested aspects remain controversial. Lastly, a concluding discussion is offered on promising new lines of enquiry to develop the theory further and ensure its global application to pressing conservation issues facing biological and cultural diversity. Although OCBILs are absent or rare in much of the postglacial and periglacial Northern Hemisphere, we demonstrate, in south-west Europe and North America, starting with California, that they are likely to be found, thus extending the implications and applications of OCBIL theory in new directions. We also propose that, in many ways, Noongar Aboriginal cosmology from south-west Australia has developed sophisticated insights about ancient uplands that are precursors to key ideas in OCBIL theory.
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