The Biology of Deserts offers a concise but comprehensive introduction to desert ecology and adopts a strong evolutionary focus. As with other titles in the Biology of Habitats Series, the emphasis in the book is on the organisms that dominate this harsh environment, although theoretical and experimental aspects are also discussed. In this updated second edition, there is a greater focus on the effects of climate change and some of its likely effects on deserts, seeing desertification as among the most serious results of climate change, leading ultimately to the increasing size of arid and semi-arid regions.
The Biology of Deserts Second Edition includes a wide range of ecological and evolutionary issues including morphological and physiological adaptations of desert plants and animals, species interactions, the importance of predation and parasitism, food webs, biodiversity, and conservation. It features a balance of plant and animal (both invertebrate and vertebrate) examples, and also emphasises topical applied issues such as desertification and invasive species. The book concludes by considering the positive aspects of desert conservation.
This accessible textbook is intended for senior undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professional ecologists, conservation practitioners, and resource managers working in the field of desert ecology.
2: Abiotic factors
3: Morphological and physiological adaptations of desert plants to the abiotic environment
4: Morphological, physiological, and behavioural adaptations of desert animals to the abiotic environment
5: The role of competition and facilitation in structuring desert communities
6: The importance of predation and parasitism
7: Plant-animal interactions in deserts
8: Desert food webs and ecosystem ecology
9: Biodiversity and biogeography of deserts
10: Human impacts and desertification
11: Conservation of deserts
David Ward is Art and Margaret Herrick Endowed Professor of Plant Biology at Kent State University. His research interests lie in the field of the ecology of plant species redistributions. This includes studying both invasive and encroaching plant species. He is also interested in studying the natural process of succession. Most of his research involves trees but he also studies the effects of herbivory by large mammals (such as elephants) on the population biology, community ecology and conservation of plant populations. He believes in the value of field experiments to allow us to gain a mechanistic understanding of the factors that create large-scale vegetation patterns.
"Reviewers can say what they like about a book, the real test is whether readers buy it in sufficient numbers to merit the author slaving over a second edition, and renders the publisher willing to stump up for another round of production costs. This wide-ranging account of desert biology clearly found a market first time round, and continues to provide a chunky but manageable account of the subject. Excellent coverage, a lengthy reference list to use as a resource for further reading, and a useful emphasis on global change (rather than just global warming) as the key issue."
– Alan Crowden, BES Bulletin 48(3), September 2017
"Ward's book is a highly readable introduction to the many facets of desert biology and is rich in fascinating details. Theory and examples are nicely interwoven and supplemented by numerous figures and illustrations [...] a must-read for any biologist curious about desert ecosystems"
– Yael Lubin, Conservation Biology
Reviews of the first edition:
"The writing is accessible. Ward has done extensive, excellent ecological work in deserts of southern Africa and Israel, which will be obvious to any reader."
– Plant Science Bulletin
"David Ward has written a book that is compelling in its breadth and depth of coverage. Buy it, and you will not be disappointed and will be able to come back to it many times and always learn something new and exciting."
– Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution