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Last Update:
February 11, 2008

Chapter 12 - Environments under threat - the biogeography of change.

New books and papers | Websites

Chapter Outline :

    • Ecosystems are dynamic: they are subject to constant change;
    • Anything which causes or leads to change in an ecosystem can be regarded as a threat to the survival of that particular ecosystem;
    • Threats come from both natural and human sources;
    • Natural changes to ecosystems arise from longterm evolution through medium-term successional and zonational changes through to short-term catastrophic changes such as volcanic activity;
    • Threats from human sources include the creation of ecosystems (e.g. from agriculture), from modification (e.g. grasslands) and destruction (e.g. rainforests) as well as short-term catastrophic events such as warfare;
    • One of our most important practical tasks is the measurement and assessment of threat levels;
    • A key current use of biogeography is to find and implement solutions to threats facing ecosystems.


New books and papers
Author(s) Title (and link) Comment
Hendry, Nosil and Rieseberg 2007 The speed of ecological speciation Key comments on a crucial topic. Argues that some speciation can take place in 12 generations.
Valentine et al 2006 Assessing the fidelity of the fossil record by using marine bivalves This paper shows how we can estimate biases in the fossil record and how to compensate for them.
Thuiller et al 2006 Endemic species and ecosystem sensitivity to climate change in Namibia Except in some specialised areas, anthropogenic-induced climate change will lead to dramatic changes in patterns of endemicity and ecosystem functioning.
Pounds et al 2006 Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming One more example of the changes that might occur in a warmer world.
Bonaccorso et al 2006 Pleistocene fragmentation of Amazon species’ ranges Using niche theory the authors try to recreate forest patterns at the last glacial maximum. Their work suggests that fragments were produced but in uncertain patterns.
Avissar and Werth 2005 Global Hydroclimatological Teleconnections Resulting from Tropical Deforestation. Teleconnections - the idea that changes in one place can cause changes elsewhere gets more evidence from this study of the Amazon.
Schoener, Losos, and Spiller 2005 Island Biogeography of Populations: An Introduced Species Transforms Survival Patterns Shows the impact of introduced species onto islands by way of examining the survival rates of lizards.
Asner et al 2005 Selective Logging in the Brazilian Amazon A novel application of satellite imagery gives us a way forward in assessing land use change.
 Beman, Arrigo and Matson 2005  Agricultural runoff fuels large phytoplankton blooms in vulnerable areas of the ocean  A study showing the vulnerability of key marine areas to fertilizers
Mack et al Ecosystem carbon storage in
arctic tundra reduced by
long-term nutrient fertilization
Anthropogenic sources of nutrients i.e. fertilizers can damage delicate arctic ecosystems.

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