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Margins are by their very nature environmentally unstable - does it therefore follow that plant populations adapted for life in such areas will prove to be pre-adapted to withstand the changes that may be brought about by a warmer world? Biogeography, demography, reproductive biology, physiology and genetics all provide cogent explanations as to why limits occur where they do, and the purpose of this book is to bring together these different avenues of enquiry.
Crawford's numerous beautiful illustrations of plants in their natural habitats remind us that the environment remains essential to our understanding of plants and their function.
1. Recognizing margins; 2. Biodiversity in marginal areas; 3. Resource acquisition in marginal habitats; 4. Reproduction at the periphery; 5. Arctic and sub-Arctic treelines and the tundra taiga interface; 6. Plant survival in a warmer Arctic; 7. Land-plants at coastal margins; 8. Survival at the water's edge; 9. Woody plants at the margin; 10. Plants at high altitudes; 11. Man at the margins; 12. Summary and conclusions.
R. M. M. Crawford has taught and researched at the University of St Andrews since 1962, pursuing the study of plant responses to the environment in a wide range of habitats in Scotland, Scandinavia, North and South America and the Arctic. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Linnean Society and an associate member of the Belgian Royal Academy.
'The book is very wide-ranging across the globe. Every page is worth reading. ... attractively laden with many colour photographs of plant close-ups and vegetation as well as maps and diagrams. ... The colour photographs are very well-chosen and highly informative. Few scientific texts are so generously enlivened with colour. ... This is a very fine book I wish I could have written myself. I found it to be extremely thorough and highly informative, and so I can recommend it without reservation to conservationists and others needing to understand plant ecology, not least the effects on global warming on plants.' BRISC Recorder News '...timely...good value with a wealth of information, useful graphs, tables and an impressive array of colour photographs.' Biologist '...should be read by everyone with an interest in the biological consequences of climate change. ...readable, informative and timely.' Bulletin of the British Ecological Society 'This is a tall order, but he [Crawford] accomplishes a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary analysis using varied examples from his own and others' research. The wealth of lush photographs accompanying his case studies - most taken by the author - help to illustrate and enliven his discussion (and should instill wanderlust in even the most sedentary ecologist). ... The book as a whole brings the discipline of evolutionary ecophysiology squarely into the forefront of a field that seeks to understand how plants reach - and potentially prevail over - the many constraints of living on the edge. ... the book is an informative read, full of richly described examples and decades of data, and it will serve as an invitation for all ecologists to explore the extremes that species are constantly overcoming - from the poles to the parking lot.' Ecology '... an engaging and oftentimes surprising book that reminds the reader of National Geographic magazine because of its abundant pictures, figures and accessible prose. ... I found the book to be a refreshing departure from the usual conformist dogma about climate change. ... While not written from a landscape ecology perspective, the book takes a multidisciplinary look at margins that landscape ecologists will find familiar. ... I read this book without much background in plant ecology and a nascent interest in climate change effects on ecosystems. The book was readily accessible to me and I learned something on nearly every page. Add to that approximately 500 good-quality pictures and figures, and you have a very worthwhile read!' Landscape Ecology 'The book is well written and generously illustrated ... with examples from all major biogeographical zones and useful cross-references among chapters. ... this is a substantial book on plant ecology in adverse habitats. It is original in combining results from complementary research disciplines, including biogeography, demography, reproductive biology, physiology and genetics. ... I am sure that the book will find a broad audience, including students, researchers and the general reader interested in the capacity of plants to cope with environmental change.' Basic and Applied Ecology 'This book brings together ... different avenues of enquiry in a form that is suited to students, researchers, and anyone with an interest in the impact of climate change. ... questions are explored concerning the changes that are already taking place on this planet. Numerous illustrations are included to remind everyone that knowledge of the existence of plants in their natural environment is essential to understand their function and ecology in a changing world.' www.cabi.org 'Crawford provides a clear and concise summary of the literature on this broad topic, skillfully synthesizing progress in a diversity of research fields to address two specific issues - how vegetation establishes and survives in areas where environmental conditions are outside the physiological tolerances of most plant species, and how changing environmental conditions might affect this vegetation. ... All chapters are lavishly illustrated and ... the numerous photographs are an excellent complement to the text. ... I can highly recommend this book to all researchers with an interest in the biological impacts of climate change and/or the ecology of abiotically stressful environments.' Annals of Botany Company