Fundamental Processes in Ecology presents a way to study ecosystems that is resonant with current thinking in the emerging fields of geobiology and Earth System Science. It provides an alternative, process-based classification of ecology and proposes a truly planetary view of ecological science. To achieve this, it asks (and endeavours to answer) the question, "what are the fundamental ecological processes which would be found on any planet with Earth-like, carbon based, life?"
The author demonstrates how the idea of fundamental ecological processes can be developed at the systems level, specifically their involvement in control and feedback mechanisms. This approach allows us to reconsider basic ecological ideas such as energy flow, guilds, trade-offs, carbon cycling and photosynthesis; and to put these in a global context. In doing so, the book puts a much stronger emphasis on microorganisms than has traditionally been the case.
The integration of Earth System Science with ecology is vitally important if ecological science is to successfully contribute to the massive problems and future challenges associated with global change. Although the approach is heavily influenced by Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, this is not a popular science book about Gaian theory. Instead it is written as an accessible text for graduate student seminar courses and researchers in the fields of ecology, earth system science, evolutionary biology, palaeontology, history of life, astrobiology, geology and physical geography.
Winner of the Marsh Ecology Book of the Year Award 2007
Preface; PART I. INTRODUCTION; 1. Introducing the thought experiment; PART II. THE FUNDAMENTAL PROCESSES; 2. Energy Flow; 3. Multiple guilds; 4. Tradeoffs and biodiversity; 5. Ecological hypercycles - covering a planet with life; 6. Merging of organismal and ecological physiology; 7. Photosynthesis; 8. Carbon sequestration; PART III. EMERGING SYSTEMS; 9. Nutrient cycling as an emergent property; 10. Historical contingency and the development of planetary ecosystems; 11. From processes to systems; Glossary; References
'The unconventional theoretical perspective of this clearly written, concise volume will shed fresh light on areas of one's own interest. Readers will find his or her own surprises and illuminations. For me, the exclamation point was Wilkinson's list of fundamental guilds: autotrophs, decomposers, and parasites.' Joel E. Cohen, Rockefeller University and Columbia University, New York, New York. 'Wilkinson does a fine job explaining fundamental ecological processes such as energy flow, multiple guilds, carbon sequestration, etc...' David Wilkins, Boise State University, USA ...a stimulating text for a graduate seminar in ecology... J.A. Jones, TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution "Fundamental Processes in Ecology" is an intriguing but iconoclastic introduction ... [it] provides a novel and thought-provoking organizational framework for ecology. J.A. Jones, TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution This is a remarkable book at many levels ... Put simply, this should be seen as a key text in any undergraduate ecology/environment course. It's one of the most interesting texts published for some time - a must-buy for the library. Dr Paul Ganderton, Ecology and Environmental Education Wilkinson has succeeded in writing an extraordinarily readable and accessible book that examines some of the very basic questions underlying ecology in its widest sense. There are relatively few books that encourage the reader to shake free from the shackles of conventional thinking and move along new and illuminating paths. Wilkinson has achieved this, and his book deserves to be read, assimilated, and argued over by all those interested in ecology, from undergraduates to senior academics. British Ecological Society Bulletin, In this lucidly written book, Dave Wilkinson introduces the ecological building blocks needed for life to thrive on a planet and explains how a self-regulating 'Gaia' system can emerge from them. Tim Lenton This is a broad and wide ranging yet scrupulously scientific book on ecology. It is just what is needed for the understanding of the fast unfolding disaster of global climate change. I unhesitatingly recommend it to all concerned biologists and climate scientists. James Lovelock