Part 1 The palaeo-ecological perspective: ecological and evolutionary time scales; research design; principles of palaeo-ecological reconstruction; hierarchical relationships. Part 2 Dispersal, invasion, expansion and migrational strategies of populations: issues; dispersal; invasion; expansion of populations; migrational strategies. Part 3 Plant succession: issues; primary succession on glacial moraines; hydrosere succession; unidirectional successional changes; cycles of secondary succession; anthropogenic influences. Part 4 Gradients, continua and ecotones: issues; gradient analysis and the continuum concept; ecotones and ecoclines; community disassembly and reassembly. Part 5 Factors structuring communities: issues; climate and climatic change; climatic modulation of disturbance regimes; soil development, substrate control and geomorphic processes; biological interactions. Part 6 Ecosystem patterns and processes: issues; cycles of ecosystem development; hubbard brook/mirror lake watershed; natural and anthropogenic ecosystem changes in Switzerland; Mayan impact on watersheds in the Peten; palaeolimnological record of lake eutrophication, paludification and acidification; extinct ecosystems - the pleistocene Arctic steppe-tundra hypothesis. Part 7 Application of quaternary ecology to future global change: issues; global climatic change and the greenhouse effect; past analogues for effects of future global warming; carbon balance of Alaskan tundra and taiga ecosystems; computer simulations of long-term changes in forest composition and biomass; nature preserves and conservation of biological diversity.