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Nearly one third of the land area of the planet is classified as arid or desert, and an understanding of the dynamics of such arid ecosystems is essential to managing those systems in a way that sustains human populations. The second edition of Ecology of Desert Systems provides a clear, extensive guide to the complex interactions involved in these areas.
This book provides detailed information on how the abiotic environment interacts with the biotic environment to determine the structure and function of desert ecosystems, revealing how these interactions drive processes such as plant growth and animal reproductive success, plus spatial and temporal distribution of vegetation and animals. Drawing on the extensive experience of its expert authors, this second edition of Ecology of Desert Systems is an important guide to arid ecosystems for students looking for an overview of the field, researchers keen to learn how their work fits in to the overall picture, and all those involved with environmental management of desert areas.
1. Conceptual Framework and Paradigms
2. Landforms, Geomorphology, and Vegetation
3. Characterization of Desert Climates
4. Wind and Water Processes
5. Patch-Mosaic Dynamics
7. Primary Production
8. Consumers, Consumption, and Secondary Production (including impact of mine site/ extraction processes and globalized trade)
9. Decomposition and Nutrient Cycling
11. Monitoring and Assessment
12. Climate Change Impacts
13. Desert Ecosystems in the Future
Professor Walter G. Whitford received his PhD from the University of Rhode Island in Physiolgical-Ecology. He spent the next fifty years working in the Chihuahuan Desert as a faculty member in Biology at New Mexico State University (NMSU) where he was principal investigator in the Desert Biome Program which was part of the International Biological Program. His research focused on field experiments and studies of termites and seed harvesting ants. That program stimulated his commitment to the importance of soil in arid ecosystems and the organisms that are involved in nutrient cycling. He also served as the first principal investigator for the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research Program. As principal investigator, he published more than 150 papers in peer reviewed journals dealing with most aspects of desert ecology. In 1993, he left the university to work as a senior research ecologist with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency with a focus on monitoring and assessing the health of arid ecosystems. After retiring from the EPA he produced the first edition of Ecology of Desert Systems and continued to teach and do research in the Chihuahuan Desert. While a professor, he did research in Israel and Australia, evaluated arid lands research programs in South Africa, and organized a symposium on the Atacama and long-term ecological research in Chile. Before embarking on the 2nd edition of Ecology of Desert Systems, he was author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr Ben Duval is an Assistant Professor of Ecology at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, USA. His research is focused on soil-atmosphere interactions, including arid land biogeochemical cycles, and he is currently investigating agro-ecosystems and natural systems in the Chihuahuan Desert to understand the impacts of climate change on soil carbon persistence in arid systems, drought effects on pinyon-juniper communities and plant-microbial-soil interactions with the nitrogen cycle. Dr Duval is the author of 20+ peer-reviewed papers and numerous popular science articles.
Ecology of Desert Systems is well written and would be engaging for students with some knowledge of biology. It should also appeal to most professional ecologists who want a succinct and authoritiative summary of the important aspects of desert biology. It is written by someone who has paid his dues spending as much time in the field studying deserts as almost anyone I know. -James A. MacMahon, for ECOLOGY, April 2003 "Whitford's book delivers a large amount of information on arid regions ... I can recommend this book to anyone interested in the ecology of arid lands." - Stefan Porembski, for PLANT SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTIONS, 2004