As human activities are increasingly domesticating the Earth's ecosystems, new selection pressures are acting to produce winners and losers amongst our wildlife. With particular emphasis on plants, Briggs examines the implications of human influences on micro-evolutionary processes in different groups of organisms, including wild, weedy, invasive, feral, and endangered species. Using case studies from around the world, he argues that Darwinian evolution is ongoing.
He considers how far it is possible to conserve endangered species and threatened ecosystems through management, and questions the extent to which damaged landscapes and their plant and animal communities can be precisely recreated or restored. Many of Darwin's ideas are highlighted, including his insights into natural selection, speciation, the vulnerability of rare organisms, the impact of invasive species, and the effects of climate change on organisms. An important text for students and researchers of evolution, conservation, climate change and sustainable use of resources.
Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. Studying change; 3. Key concepts in plant evolution; 4. The origin and extent of human-influenced habitats; 5. Consequences of human influences on the biosphere; 6. Categories; 7. Investigating microevolution in anthropogenic ecosystems; 8. Plant microevolution in managed grassland ecosystems; 9. Harvesting crops: arable and forestry; 10. Pollution and microevolutionary change; 11. Introduced plants; 12. Endangered species: investigating the extinction processes at the population level; 13. Hybrids and speciation in anthropogenically-influenced ecosystems; 14. Ex situ conservation: within and outside reserves; 15. In situ conservation; 16. Creative conservation through restoration and reintroduction; 17. Reserves in the landscape; 18. Climate change; 19. Microevolution and climate change; 20. The implications of climate change for the theory and practice of conservation; 21. Overview; Bibliography; Index.
David Briggs is Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge. He completed his BSc and PhD from Durham University. He has served as Demonstrator in Botany, Botany School, University of Cambridge from 1961-1964; a Lecturer in Botany, University of Glasgow from 1974-2001; and Lecturer in Botany, and Curator of the Herbarium, Department of Plant Sciences at Cambridge University from 1974-2001. He has a lifelong interest in conservation, evolution, genetics and taxonomy. His practical conservation experience includes being a former member of the Wicken Fen Committee of the National Trust and the Milngavie Civic Trust. He was formerly the Chair of Cam Valley Forum - an action group active in the conservation of the Cam, its flood plain and tributaries. He has co-authored Plant Variation and Evolution, also by Cambridge University Press, now in its third edition.
'... a book that successfully offers broad and balanced coverage of Darwinian ideas as they operate today in plant populations. ... The book is thought-provoking as advertised; it is also quite humbling.' Plant Science Bulletin 'David Briggs has produced a resoundingly fascinating overview of the effects of human influences on microevolutionary processes in a wide range of plants and habitats, ranging from weeds to rainforests ... This is an important book, which should be devoured by students.' Bulletin of the British Ecological Society