Mathematical Ecology of Populations and Ecosystems

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Population ecologists study how births and deaths affect the dynamics of populations and communities, while ecosystem ecologists study how species control the flux of energy and materials through food webs and ecosystems. Although all these processes occur simultaneously in nature, the mathematical frameworks bridging the two disciplines have developed independently. Consequently, this independent development of theory has impeded the cross-fertilization of population and ecosystem ecology. Using recent developments from dynamical systems theory, this advanced undergraduate/graduate level textbook shows how to bridge the two disciplines seamlessly. The book shows how bifurcations between the solutions of models can help understand regime shifts in natural populations and ecosystems once thresholds in rates of births, deaths, consumption, competition, nutrient inputs, and decay are crossed.

Mathematical Ecology is essential reading for students of ecology who have had a first course in calculus and linear algebra or students in mathematics wishing to learn how dynamical systems theory can be applied to ecological problems.

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About the author

John Pastor is Professor of Biology, at University of Minnesota Duluth, USA
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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Aug 31, 2011
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9781444358452
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Ecology
Science / Life Sciences / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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When we wrote this book it was, admittedly, flrst of all for the sake of our own enjoyment and enlightenment. We will, however, add our sincerely meant (but rather traditional) hope that it will prove interesting to graduate students, to colleagues and to anyone else, who will bother to read it. The book was written as a joint effort by a theoretically inclined population geneticist and an experimental ecologist who share opinions on what is interesting in the fleld of theoretical ecology. While we believe that qualifled natural history is of indisputable intrinsic value, we think that ecology is a natural science which should have a theoretical framework. On the other hand, theoretical ecology must draw its inspiration from nature and yield results which give insight into the flndings of the naturalist and inspire him to make new observations and experiments. Without this relationship between fleld biology and theory, mathe matical ecology may become a discipline totally divorced from biology and solve-albeit interesting-mathematical problems without signiflcance for ecology. Therefore, in addition to theoretical population biology (including some original models) the book also discusses observational data from nature to show how the theoretical models give new insight and how observations give rise to new theoretical thought. While no book on ecology could do without the mention of the hare-lynx example (and ours is, therefore, no exception) we have tried to bring new examples mainly derived from one of the authors' fleld of experience: microbial ecology and marine biology.
Can physics be an appropriate framework for the understanding of ecological science? Most ecologists would probably agree that there is little relation between the complexity of natural ecosystems and the simplicity of any example derived from Newtonian physics. Though ecologists have long been interested in concepts originally developed by statistical physicists and later applied to explain everything from why stock markets crash to why rivers develop particular branching patterns, applying such concepts to ecosystems has remained a challenge.

Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems is the first book to clearly synthesize what we have learned about the usefulness of tools from statistical physics in ecology. Ricard Solé and Jordi Bascompte provide a comprehensive introduction to complex systems theory, and ask: do universal laws shape the structure of ecosystems, at least at some scales? They offer the most compelling array of theoretical evidence to date of the potential of nonlinear ecological interactions to generate nonrandom, self-organized patterns at all levels.


Tackling classic ecological questions--from population dynamics to biodiversity to macroevolution--the book's novel presentation of theories and data shows the power of statistical physics and complexity in ecology. Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems will be a staple resource for years to come for ecologists interested in complex systems theory as well as mathematicians and physicists interested in ecology.

How long should a leaf live? When should blueberries ripen? And what shoulda clever moose eat? Questions like these may seem simple or downright strange—yet they form the backbone of natural history, a discipline that fostered some of our mimportant scientific theories, from natural selection to glaciation. Through careful, patiobservations of the organisms that live in an area, their distributions, and how they interact with other species, we gain a more complete picture of the world around us, and our place in it.

In What Should a Clever Moose Eat?, John Pastor explores the natural history of the North Woods, an immense and complex forest that stretches from the western shore of Lake Superior to the far coast of Newfoundland. The North Woods is one of the mecologically and geologically interesting places on the planet, with a hof natural history questions arising from each spruce or sugar maple. From the geological history of the region to the shapes of leaves and the relationship between aspens, caterpillars, and predators, Pastor delves into a captivating range of topics as diverse as the North Woods themselves. Through his meticulous observations of the natural world, scientists and nonscientists alike learn to ask natural history questions and form their own theories, gaining a greater understanding of and love for the North Woods—and other natural places precious to them.

In the tradition of Charles Darwin and Henry David Thoreau, John Pastor is a joyful observer of nature who makes sharp connections and moves deftly from observation to theory. Take a walk in John Pastor's North Woods—you'll come away with a new appreciation for details, for the game trails, beaver ponds, and patterns of growth around you, and won't look at the natural world in the same way again.
The ecosystem approach to ecology treats organisms and the physical elements of their environment as components of a single, integrated system. This comprehensive textbook outlines the central processes that characterize terrestrial ecosystems, tracing the flow of water, carbon, and nutrients from their abiotic origins to their cycles through plants, animals, and decomposer organisms. As human activity becomes an increasingly dominant factor in natural processes around the globe, landscape dynamics over time and space have become the focus of recent attention. This book synthesizes current advances in ecology with established theory to offer a complete survey of ecosystem pattern and process in the terrestrial environment. Featuring review questions at the end of each chapter, suggestions for recommended reading, and a glossary of ecological terms, Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology will be an important text suitable for use in all courses on ecosystem ecology. Resource managers, land use managers, and researchers will also welcome its thorough presentation of ecosystem essentials. About the Authors F. Stuart Chapin, III is Professor of Ecology at the Institute for Arctic Biology, University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Pamela Matson is Professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences and the Institute of International Studies, Stanford University; Director of the Earth Systems Degree Program and co-director of the Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Stanford University; and currently serves as president of the Ecological Society of America. Harold A. Mooney is Professor of Environmental Biology at Stanford University.
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One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

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