Publisher: Springer Date of Publication: 2005
Price: € 96.25 ISBN: 3 540 20014 2
Pages: xi + 251 Format: Hardcover

Overall Score:

Target Readership Sen Secondary For help with criteria, click here


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Preface - The treatment of ecozones; 1 - Distribution; 2 - Climate; 3 - Relief and Drainage; 4 - Soils; 5 - Vegetation and animals; 6 - Land use; 7 - Polar sub-polar zone; 8 - Boreal zone; 9 - Temperate midlatitudes; 10 - Dry midlatitudes; 11 - Subtropics with winter rain; 12 - Subtropics with year-round rain; 13 - Dry tropics and subtropics; 14 - Tropics with summer rain; 15 - Tropics with year-round rain.



It's been a long time since books such as Ayre's Vegetation and Soils (Arnold 1968) in terms of both subject development and the volume of material now published. This makes the detail we have far more complete but it also means that some of the most basic material can be lost. One key area especially in basic education is to provide some simple idea of global ecosystems and their characteristics. Although we are now used to biomes as the unit (or, to some extent, ecoregions although the terms are not synonymous) this author chooses to use ecozone as the main unit.

This text (now in its second edition) aims to provide key basic information but in a structured framework within set parameters. As such, the text can be divided into two areas: characteristics of the ecozones and a standardised view of the 9 key ecozones. We start with a preface that acts as the key to the text. It describes a 'hierarchy' of characteristics putting the physical environment at the apex with the biosphere and land use at the bottom.Key ecozones are outlined and a chart comparing biotic and abiotic factors in each ecozone acts as a very useful summary. The parameters of the characteristics are also discussed. This brings us to the first of six chapters each one of which takes one element and describes it. Chapter one starts with distribution and a description of the extent and geographical location of each of the ecozones. Climate is the next topic with a very brief review of solar radiation and a description of the climographs used later in the text. Chapter three looks at relief and its impact upon drainage. Soils, chapter four, takes up a larger space with an examination of both soil formation and classification of soils around the world. Another larger view is taken of plants and animals in chapter five where the focus is lifeform, distribution and nutrient flow. The final characteristic, land use, shows human impact on the natural world. From this brief overview we turn to the regional analyses. The framework described in the first section forms the basis for ecozone analysis. Thus we start with distribution and climate and go through to land use. In addition, there's a standard chart of ecozone components. This is continued in a latitudinal perspective from poles to tropics.

Whereas the idea is simple the actual work is far more complex. The preface demonstrates that this is no random collection of criteria and that each one has it's own weaknesses and strengths. In the section on characteristics there are numerous maps, diagrams and tables showing interaction but also providing an excellent visual reference. The ecozone chapters are similarly well illustrated. Maps have a series of climographs showing average climatic conditions across the range. Other diagrams highlight specific features. A model of energy flow (harking back to Odum's work) and a diagram of component interactions are two constants between chapters. Although the idea is simple the detail and execution seen in this slim volume is considerable. It provides an excellent reference to all the world's main biomes/ecozones which would be useful in a wide range of educational settings. This is one of those texts that might be overlooked in normal educational settings but which actually deserves the widest readership (a paperback version would help in this regard!). Definitely a serious contender for the library shelves.


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