Introducing an innovative model that uses fractal geometry to describe the complex physical structure of nature, Mark Ritchie shows how species traits, particularly body size, lead to spatial patterns of resource use that allow species to coexist. He explains how this criterion for coexistence can be converted into a "rule" for how many species can be "packed" into an environment given the supply of resources and their spatial variability. He then demonstrates how this rule can be used to predict a range of patterns in ecological communities, such as body-size distributions, species-abundance distributions, and species-area relations. Ritchie illustrates how the predictions closely match data from many real communities, including those of mammalian herbivores, grasshoppers, dung beetles, and birds.
This book offers a compelling alternative to "neutral" theory in community ecology, one that helps us better understand patterns of biodiversity across the Earth.
Since the 1980s, studies of non-indigenous species have expanded greatly as a reflection of the rise in popularity that the discipline of invasion biology has gained among ecologists. However, the number of published articles is biased towards terrestrial invaders; invasive events occurring in freshwater systems have been most often neglected or analyzed only in a few regional contexts or for a small number of paradigmatic species. Yet freshwater systems, whose value to humankind is obviously priceless, are particularly vulnerable to non-indigenous species as a direct consequence of the intensity with which humans utilize fresh waters for recreation, food sources, and commerce.
The book examines the identity, distribution, and impact of freshwater non-indigenous species and the dynamics of their invasion. Rather than providing a broad and comprehensive review of the issue, Biological invaders in inland waters focuses on old and new invaders and also raises questions and opens perspectives that provide a starting point for further research. The ultimate purpose of this book is to help define a more general framework for our knowledge of invasions in fresh waters. Such a framework will be indispensable to the planning of a science-based management program.
Michel Loreau begins by explaining how the principles of population dynamics and ecosystem functioning can be merged. He then addresses key issues in the study of biodiversity and ecosystems, such as functional complementarity, food webs, stability and complexity, material cycling, and metacommunities. Loreau describes the most recent theoretical advances that link the properties of individual populations to the aggregate properties of communities, and the properties of functional groups or trophic levels to the functioning of whole ecosystems, placing special emphasis on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Finally, he turns his attention to the controversial issue of the evolution of entire ecosystems and their properties, laying the theoretical foundations for a genuine evolutionary ecosystem ecology.
From Populations to Ecosystems points the way to a much-needed synthesis in ecology, one that offers a fuller understanding of ecosystem processes in the natural world.
Oswald Schmitz addresses the critical questions of contemporary ecology: How should an ecosystem be conceptualized to blend its biotic and biophysical components? How should evolutionary ecological principles be used to derive an operational understanding of complex, adaptive ecosystems? How should the relationship between the functional biotic diversity of ecosystems and their properties be understood? Schmitz begins with the universal concept that ecosystems are comprised of species that consume resources and which are then resources for other consumers. From this, he deduces a fundamental rule or evolutionary ecological mechanism for explaining context dependency: individuals within a species trade off foraging gains against the risk of being consumed by predators. Through empirical examples, Schmitz illustrates how species use evolutionary ecological strategies to negotiate a predator-eat-predator world, and he suggests that the implications of species trade-offs are critical to making ecology a predictive science.
Bridging the traditional divides between individuals, populations, and communities in ecology, Resolving Ecosystem Complexity builds a systematic foundation for thinking about natural systems.