Books  Ecological & Biological Sciences  Ecological Theory and Practice 

Multiple Stable States in Natural Ecosystems

  • Provides a concise, authoritative, and accessible introduction to the theory and experimental tests of multiple stable states
  • Collates and integrates a widely dispersed literature from various fields: marine and terrestrial, plant and animal, theoretical and empirical, academic and applied
  • Clear and simple explanations of complex ecological theory make it ideal graduate seminar course material
  • Concludes with a broader look at the challenges of moving towards evidence-based ecology

By: Peter Petraitis(Author)

188 pages, b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Jan 2016 | #225927 | ISBN-13: 9780198777755
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £28.99 $37/€32 approx
Hardback | Apr 2013 | #202709 | ISBN-13: 9780199569342
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £55.99 $71/€62 approx

About this book

One of the most interesting and vexing problems in ecology is how distinctly different communities of plants and animals can occur in the same ecosystem. The theory of these systems, known as multiple stable states, is well understood, but whether multiple stable states actually exist in nature has remained a hotly debated subject.

Multiple Stable States in Natural Ecosystems provides a broad and synthetic critique of recent advances in theory and new experimental evidence. Modern models of systems with multiple stable states are placed in historical context. Current theories are covered in a rigorous fashion with the specific goal of identifying testable predictions about multiple stable states. Multiple Stable States in Natural Ecosystems provides a more synthetic, more critical, and broader analysis of Multiple Stable States in Natural Ecosystems than any previous review. By making the theory more transparent and the analysis of the evidence more comparative, Multiple Stable States in Natural Ecosystems broadens the discussion about multiple stable states, leading to a more general consideration of the interplay between theory and experiment in community ecology and environmental management.

This accessible research monograph will be suitable for graduate students taking courses in community ecology, theoretical ecology, and restoration ecology. It will also be a valuable reference for professional ecologists and environmental managers requiring a concise overview of the topic.

"Less frequently than the occurrence of a blue moon, a monograph comes along that not only crystallizes an entire field of research but also is such a good read that once one picks it up, s/he won't put it down until every page has been absorbed. Peter Petraitis' Multiple Stable States in Natural Ecosystems is just such a book."
– Aaron M. Ellison, Ecology

"a very accomplished text, providing a concise overview of a complex subject with admirable clarity. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anybody working in the field of environmental management or conservation."
– Christopher P. Cesar, African Journal of Range & Forage Science


1: Introduction
2: What theory actually tells us about multiple stable states
3: Detection of multiple stable states
4: Experimental evidence
5: Catastrophe theory
6: Hallmarks of catastrophes
7: Other modeling approaches
8: Four common misconceptions
9: Using temporal and spatial patterns as evidence
10: Where do we go from here?

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this book. Be the first to review this book!


Peter Petraitis is a Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania and an ecologist known for his work in rocky intertidal shores in Maine where he has been working since 1981. He also works in Mongolia studying the impacts of climate change and nomadic herding on steppe grasslands in Lake Hövsgöl National Park. Professor Petraitis received his Ph.D. in ecology from Stony Brook University in 1979 and was a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bestsellers in this subject

The Princeton Guide to Ecology

NHBS Price: £46.99 $60/€52 approx

Translational Ecology

NHBS Price: £29.99 $38/€33 approx

Why Ecology Matters

NHBS Price: £18.99 $24/€21 approx

Urban Wildlife Conservation

NHBS Price: £79.99 $102/€89 approx

Mapping Ecosystem Services

NHBS Price: £72.99 $93/€81 approx

VAT: GB 407 4846 44
NHBS Ltd is registered in England and Wales: 1875194