Understanding how our living environment works is essentially a study of ecological systems. Ecology is the science of how organisms interact with each other and with their environment, and how such interactions create self-organising communities and ecosystems. This science touches us all. The food we eat, the water we drink, the natural resources we use, our physical and mental health, and much of our cultural heritage are to a large degree products of ecological interactions of organisms and their environment.
This Very Short Introduction celebrates the centrality of ecology in our lives. Jaboury Ghazoul explores how ecology has evolved rapidly from natural history to become a predictive science that explains how the natural world works, and which guides environmental policy and management decisions. Drawing on a range of examples, he shows how ecological science can be applied to management and conservation, including the extent to which theory has shaped practice. Ecological science has also shaped social and cultural perspectives on the environment, a process that influences politics of the environment. Ghazoul concludes by considering the future of ecology, particularly in the light of current and future environmental challenges.
List of illustrations
1: What is ecology?
2: History of ecology
3: Principles and theories
4: The big questions
5: Applied ecology
6: Ecology in culture and politics
7: The future of ecology
Jaboury Ghazoul is Professor of Ecosystem Management at ETH Zurich, and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes at the University of Edinburgh. As a tropical forest ecologist, Jaboury has worked in Southeast Asia, India, southern Africa, and Costa Rica and Colombia. He has published several previous books on tropical ecology and forests, including Forests: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2015)