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Academic & Professional Books  Ecology  Ecological Theory & Practice

The Fundamental Processes in Ecology Life and the Earth System

By: David M Wilkinson(Author)
153 pages, colour photos, b/w illustrations, tables
The Fundamental Processes in Ecology
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  • The Fundamental Processes in Ecology ISBN: 9780199229062 Edition: 1 Paperback Sep 2007 In stock
  • The Fundamental Processes in Ecology ISBN: 9780192884657 Edition: 2 Paperback Sep 2023 In stock
  • The Fundamental Processes in Ecology ISBN: 9780192884640 Edition: 2 Hardback Sep 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • The Fundamental Processes in Ecology ISBN: 9780198568469 Edition: 1 Hardback Aug 2006 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Selected version: £32.49
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

This thought-provoking book introduces a way to study ecosystems that is resonant with current thinking in the fields of earth system science, geobiology, and planetology. Instead of organizing the subject around a hierarchical series of entities (e.g. genes, individuals, populations, species, communities, and the biosphere), the book provides an alternative process-based approach and proposes a truly planetary view of ecological science. It demonstrates how the idea of fundamental ecological processes can be developed at the systems level, specifically their involvement in control and feedback mechanisms. This enables the reader to reconsider fundamental ecological processes such as energy flow, guilds, trade-offs, carbon cycling, and photosynthesis, and to put them in a global (and even planetary) context. In so doing, the book places a much stronger emphasis on microorganisms.

Since publication of the first edition in 2006, ever-growing societal concern about environmental sustainability has ensured that the earth system science/Gaian approach has steadily gained traction. Its integration with ecology is now more important than ever if ecological science is to effectively contribute to the massive problems and future challenges associated with global environmental change.

The Fundamental Processes in Ecology is an accessible text for senior undergraduates, graduate student seminar courses, and researchers in the fields of ecology, environmental sustainability, earth system science, evolutionary biology, palaeontology, history of life, astrobiology, planetology, climatology, geology, and physical geography.



Part I: Introduction
1. Introducing the Thought Experiment

Part II: The Fundamental Processes
2. Energy Flow
3. Multiple Guilds
4. Trade-offs and Biodiversity
5. Dispersal
6. Ecological Hypercycles: Covering a Planet with Life
7. Merging of Organismal and Ecological Physiology
8. Photosynthesis
9. Carbon Sequestration

Part III: Emerging Systems
10. Nutrient Cycling as an Emergent Property
11. Historical Contingency and the Development of Planetary Ecosystems
12. From Processes to Systems

Customer Reviews


David M. Wilkinson is Visiting Professor in Ecology, University of Lincoln, UK and an Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Classics and Archaeology, University of Nottingham, UK. He has wide interests within the environmental and biological sciences, where much of his research is on theoretical topics within evolutionary ecology, biogeography, and earth systems science. In addition, he is involved in more empirical research on soil protozoa, environmental archaeology, and the history of science. His teaching covers a diverse range of topics from the history of geology to forensic archaeology but is focused on various aspects of ecology.

By: David M Wilkinson(Author)
153 pages, colour photos, b/w illustrations, tables
Media reviews

Reviews of the first edition:

"The unconventional theoretical perspective of this clearly written, concise volume will shed fresh light on areas of one's own interest. Readers will find his or her own surprises and illuminations. For me, the exclamation point was Wilkinson's list of fundamental guilds: autotrophs, decomposers, and parasites."
– Joel E. Cohen, Rockefeller University and Columbia University, New York,

"Wilkinson does a fine job explaining fundamental ecological processes such as energy flow, multiple guilds, carbon sequestration, etc [...]"
– David Wilkins, Boise State University, USA

"[...] a stimulating text for a graduate seminar in ecology [...] Fundamental Processes in Ecology is an intriguing but iconoclastic introduction [...] [it] provides a novel and thought-provoking organizational framework for ecology."
– J.A. Jones, TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution

"This is a remarkable book at many levels [...] Put simply, this should be seen as a key text in any undergraduate ecology/environment course. It's one of the most interesting texts published for some time – a must-buy for the library."
– Dr Paul Ganderton, Ecology and Environmental Education

"Wilkinson has succeeded in writing an extraordinarily readable and accessible book that examines some of the very basic questions underlying ecology in its widest sense. There are relatively few books that encourage the reader to shake free from the shackles of conventional thinking and move along new and illuminating paths. Wilkinson has achieved this, and his book deserves to be read, assimilated, and argued over by all those interested in ecology, from undergraduates to senior academics."
British Ecological Society Bulletin

"In this lucidly written book, Dave Wilkinson introduces the ecological building blocks needed for life to thrive on a planet and explains how a self-regulating 'Gaia' system can emerge from them. Tim Lenton This is a broad and wide ranging yet scrupulously scientific book on ecology. It is just what is needed for the understanding of the fast unfolding disaster of global climate change. I unhesitatingly recommend it to all concerned biologists and climate scientists."
– James Lovelock

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