I was curious about the terms micro and macro evolution.  Are they actually used much by people who study natural history? I just assumed they were pretty much the same thing, just occuring over longer stretches of time. The reason why I ask is the people who tend to use them aren't generally people who believe in evolution. Whereas the books I've read on evolution use the tems sparingly or not at all. I've grown to be very annoied by the terms mico and macro evolution.

Microevolution and macroevolution are perfectly respectable terms in evolutionary biology, and I’m sorry that they’ve come to annoy you! Microevolution refers to evolution within a species, such as changes in gene frequency from one generation to the next. Macroevolution refers to evolutionary phenomena above the level of a species, such as evolutionary trends that play out across long stretches of geological time.

The extent to which these long-term phenomena are the straightforward result of cumulative microevolutionary change is actually quite controversial. Some palaeontologists are especially fond of the term “macroevolution” because it draws attention to the alternative possibility that some patterns of evolutionary change in the fossil record cannot be explained by simple extrapolation from microevolution in living species. (The palaeontologist Steven Stanley once wrote an entire book called “Macroevolution: Pattern and Process”.) On the other hand, it seems to me – although others on this site may correct me – that many evolutionary biologists who work on living species don’t think very much about macroevolution. From their point of view, microevolution is simply evolution, so the term “microevolution” is perhaps less common in the scientific literature than “macroevolution”.

I think Corwin has it nailed. Broadly, palaeontolgy deals with whole organisms and long time-scale evolutionary processes, whereas modern biology mostly looks at aspects of an organism (E.g. the genome or behaviour) or population dynamics. This tends to mean that "evolution" from a palaeontological perspective is really "macroevolution" and from a biological perspective it is "microevolution". Because of the limited overlap between disciplines biologists rarely need to identify the scale of the processes they are looking at.

True Paolo and speaking personally one of the great joys of being part of AAB - it is the only time I am "exposed" to the paleo-ontological issues and not a day goes by when I do not learn something new!