This text, now in its third edition, continues to provide a
very high level assessment of changes in this field. The editors
have gathered a range of key workers in this field and allowed
them to reflect on the key aspects of their work and the changes
seen. As such, this is a text for the specialist - a considerable
degree of knowledge is expected to gain fully from everything
noted. however, this is not to decry other uses - it provides
an insight into some key ideas and allows non-specialists to
follow the arguments. We start with an introduction that describes
changes in the field over the course of the three editions.
There's also a useful overview of the subsequent work. Chapter
two and three tackle the issue of a species interactions with
its environment in the former case in terms of cooperation between
species and in the latter case ideas of density-dependent patterns
and the range of responses that can be seen from this. Although
single populations are useful for study, real populations interact.
Chapter four examines the mechanisms behind local population
numbers and dynamics. On a similar theme, chapter five analyses
predator-prey interactions looking at both theory and practice.
There are issues here highlighting the need to integrate the
two as far as possible. Plants also interact and so the advances
made here are discussed in chapter six. Here, the use of diatoms
as a case is interesting because it demonstrates that size is
no barrier to dynamics. This is illustrated here specifically
for alongside the diatoms there's discussion of trees. The interaction
picture is further complicated in chapter 7 where larger numbers
of species combine in different ways to determine population
number. Diversity is a crucial topic especially in conservation.
Along with stability, these two form the backbone of chapter
8 which looks at how our understanding is changing from a simple
model to the far more complex but less certain ideas we have
presently. This is linked to chapter 9 which aims to review
theoretical and practical advances in community ecology. Next
we turn to infectious diseases. Although not part of anyone's
conservation scheme they still have a great deal to tell us
about the development of population dynamics - one of the reasons
that this field has developed so much recently. Chapter 11 looks
at a very practical issue - the development of fisheries and
the dynamics of species. This is a crucial area for many people
and so fish management becomes a key area for debate. it also
shows how literature outside the traditional ecological research
community can be used to inform debate within it. A similarly
practical concern is taken in chapter 12 which looks at the
impact of the Green Revolution. Here the focus is not just on
the debate about food increase but on the way in which stakeholder
input is essential for success. Conservation has never been
more popular and reserve areas larger and yet never has pressure
been so great on biodiversity. This paradox is not helped by
issues in theoretical conservation nor by the economic and political
systems that manage parks. In contrast to earlier chapters focussed
on the mathematical elements of theoretical ecology, chapter
14 examines the ways in which climate change may affect species'
distribution and survival. The final chapter takes stock of
all that has gone before and argues that although some areas
might seem esoteric they are important and do need to be addressed.
this is an excellent high-level review of ecology well suited
to its target audience of advanced undergraduates and beyond.
There's also something for the more general reader especially
in the later chapters which look at some of the more pressing
issues of our times reminding us that we need to examine both
theory and practice to make the best decisions.