New or recently sterilized islands (for example through volcanic activity), provide ecologists with natural experiments in which to study colonization, development and establishment of new biological communities. Studies carried out on islands like this have provided answers to fundamental questions as to what general principles are involved in the ecology of communities and what processes underlie and maintain the basic structure of ecosystems. These studies are vital for conservation biology, especially when evolutionary processes need to be maintained in systems in order to maintain biodiversity. The major themes are how animal and plant communities establish, particularly on 'new land' or following extirpations by volcanic activity.
This book comprises a broad review of island colonization, bringing together succession models and general principles, case studies with which Professor Ian Thornton was intimately involved, and a synthesis of ideas, concluding with a look to the future for similar studies.
'Thornton's impassionedly written book ... [delivers] a wealth of detail on (re)colonization of new or devastated islands by plants and animals as well as ecological succession of entire ecosystems. Reading this book was a real pleasure, possibly due to its narrative style. In addition to biogeographers, it will inspire and provide valuable facts to all those ... ecologists who deal with ecological succession, habitat fragmentation, microcosm experiments, biodiversity research and nature conservation.' Basic and Applied Ecology ' ... provide(s) a wealth of information that heretofore had not been adequately synthesized on island colonization.' Landscape Ecology
Preface; Part I. Introduction: Theoretical and Experimental Studies: 1. Introduction; 2. Theoretical and experimental colonization; Part II. Natural Recolonization after Devastation: 3. A clean slate?; 4. Life returns- primary colonization of devastated surfaces; Part III. The Recolonization of Devastated Islands: 5. Recovering island biotas: volcano and Barcena; 6. Thera, Santorini group, Mediterranean; 7. Long and Ritter Islands, Bismarck Sea; 8. Krakatau, Sunda Strait; Part IV. Assembly of Biotas on New Islands: 9. Lake Wisdom- a new island of fresh water; 10. New islands in the sea; 11. Anak Krakatau, Krakatau's child, b. 1933; 12. Surtsey, Island of Surtur, b. 1963; 13. Motmot - a new island in fresh water; Part V. Colonization and Assembly: 14. Dispersal; 15. Stepping stone islands - the case of Sebesi; 16. Learning from nature's lessons; Literature cited; Index.
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Professor Ian Thornton (La Trobe University, Melbourne) was one of the world's leading island biogeographers, working primarily on the volcanic islands of the Pacific, and sadly died in 2002. Amongst the papers he left behind was the manuscript of this book, with an express wish that should anything happen to him, his friend and colleague, Professor Tim New (also La Trobe University) finish the book for him, which he has done.