Home | News | Websites
Title: Ecology 6e.
Author(s): Charles J Krebs
Date of Publication: 2009 Publisher: Pearson
Pages:xv + 655 ISBN: 978 0 321 60468 2
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Undergraduate







Content: 1 –Introduction to the science of ecology; 2 - Evolution and Ecology; 3 - Behavioural Ecology; 4 - Analysing geographic distributions; 5 - Factors that limit distributions 1 - Biotic; 6 - Factors that limit distribution 2 - Abiotic; 7 - Distribution and Abundance; 8 - Population parameters and demographic techniques; 9 - Population growth; 10 - Species interactions 1 - competition; 12 - Species interactions 2: predation; 13 - Species interactions 3 - Herbivory; 14 - Species interactions 4 - disease and parasitism; 15 - Applied problems 1 - harvesting populations; 16 - Applied problems 2 - pest control; 17 - Applied problems 3 - conservation biology; 18 - Community structure in time: succession; 19 - Community structure in space: biodiversity; 20 - Community dynamics 1 - predation and competition in equilibrial communities; 21 - Community dynamics 2 - disturbance and nonequilibrium communities; 22 - Ecosystem metabolism 1 - primary production; 23 - Ecosystem metabolism 2 - secondary production; 24 - Ecosystem metabolism 3 - nutrient cycles; 25 - Ecosystem dynamics under changing climates; 26 - Ecosystem health and human impacts.

Review: As I write this review I have next to me a very battered copy of the second edition. It started me along the ecological education trail and although I didn't realise it at the time it was one of three ecological perspectives that have developed since the 1970s. The other two: Odum's energetics approach and the developmental perspective of Begon et al have provided generations of students with a sound but subtly changing approach to basic ecology.

From the personal we turn to the pragmatic. Gone is the quaint typeface and small black-and-white illustrations of the second edition, replaced by the usual full-colour visual treatment expected these days. What's not gone is the same Eltonian approach he has always adopted (and updated). As one might expect, there are numerous changes (even from the fifth edition which was reviewed here) but these seem to be more of re-grouping rather than complete change. As always we open with a chapter looking at the nature of ecology and how it operates. Two subsequent chapters look at changes in populations through evolution and behaviour. Whilst this might seem less usual, there are sound reasons. Often we assume (and certainly students do) that species remain constant and everything around changes. The principle of uniformitarianism is strong and not easy to discount and yet we must be aware that organisms can and do change. It now makes sense to study such changes first to see if they are responsible for and ecological responses. These three chapters form a group in the text. Part two focusses of the geography of distributions. An initial chapter examines how one analyse distribution and some of the conceptual issues involved. This is followed by two complementary chapters which describe, respectively biotic and abiotic limitations to distribution. A final chapter, seven, analyses the combined impact of these. The remainder of the text is divided into two further parts which mirror the subtitle of the book - abundance and distribution. Whichever approach one takes and however one analyses fieldwork, ultimately ecology must come down to these two factors - how many and where are they. Part three starts with a look at population from demographic and mathematical perspectives. This is followed by a study of the mathematics of population growth and some of the basic formulae we use. It can be argued that this sets the scene for the remainder of this part. The framework is there - we need mathematical models and an appreciation of how they operate but the need is to discover how ecological principles work in the field and influence real populations. The next four chapters are linked and follow a common theme of interactions. Chapter 10 describes interactions due to competition in both plants and animals. Chapter 11 adds predation to the list of variables whilst chapter 12 considers changes in (external?) responses of herbivory and mutualism. Finally in this set, chapter 13 highlights the (internal?) changes brought about by diseases and parasites. Before examining some applied aspects of abundance, the author provides a 'linking' chapter 14 discussing issues of population regulation. What limits populations and how might they be explained? Population numbers are important not just for ecological theory but also because a large part of human existence is based on manipulation of organism numbers (otherwise known as fishing, farming and conservation). It's these three examples that the next chapters examine. Thus chapter 15 highlights concepts like maximum sustainable yield and resource efficiency; chapter 16 describes the pros and cons of pest control whilst chapter 17 looks at issues surrounding small population analysis and genetic diversity. The final group of chapters relates to distribution. A very useful, compact study of Mt St Helens and a side view at Surtsey demonstrates the issue of succession which is all too clear in these volcanic settings. If this is change in time then chapter 19 which is change in space should be zonation but it's actually given up to biodiversity. This is an interesting choice. Both conventional zonation studies and current ideas on biodiversity (especially under global warming scenarios) run on gradients. Thus using a current theme to illustrate an older idea works on two levels: catching the student's attention and getting across ecological ideas. The next two chapters tackle a common theme - dynamics at the community level. The first considers issues from species interactions in equilibrial communities whilst the latter examines what might happen in a nonequilibrium setting. In a similar fashion, the next three chapters consider the concept of community metabolism firstly through primary and then secondary production with a final look at sources of nutrients in nutrient cycles. The two final chapters study two of the most important ecological issues today: climate change and ecosystem health. Global warming is affecting both abundance and distribution which makes it easy to fit into this text's themes. Ecosystem health (or services) is a major issue in better using and managing our ecosystems.

Each chapter is packed with features to help the reader. We start with key concepts and terms, go through richly illustrated pages to summaries, review questions and some suggested readings. There are also a series of text boxes dealing with a range of topics from advanced parts of the text, to profiles of leading ecologists to essays on key issues. Overall, this retains the approach which made it a standard in the 1970s. It's been updated thoroughly as one might expect in both production standards and, obviously, concept. As an outstanding example of one of ecology's key texts it should be expected to be found on every institution (and ideally personal) library. An absolute must-buy.





To top