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Academic & Professional Books  Habitats & Ecosystems  Habitats & Ecosystems: General

Trophic Cascades Predators, Prey, and the Changing Dynamics of Nature

By: John Terborgh(Editor), James A Estes(Editor), Ellen K Pikitch(Foreword By)
464 pages, Figs, tabs
Publisher: Island Press
Trophic Cascades
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  • Trophic Cascades ISBN: 9781597264860 Hardback Jun 2010 Usually dispatched within 6 days
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Trophic cascades – the top-down regulation of ecosystems by predators – are an essential aspect of ecosystem function and well-being. Trophic cascades are often drastically disrupted by human interventions – for example, when wolves and cougars are removed, allowing deer and beaver to become destructive – yet have only recently begun to be considered in the development of conservation and management strategies.

Trophic Cascades is the first comprehensive presentation of the science on this subject. It brings together some of the world's leading scientists and researchers to explain the importance of large animals in regulating ecosystems, and to relate that scientific knowledge to practical conservation.

Chapters examine trophic cascades across the world's major biomes, including intertidal habitats, coastal oceans, lakes, nearshore ecosystems, open oceans, tropical forests, boreal and temperate ecosystems, low arctic scrubland, savannas, and islands. Additional chapters consider aboveground/belowground linkages, predation and ecosystem processes, consumer control by megafauna and fire, and alternative states in ecosystems. An introductory chapter offers a concise overview of trophic cascades, while concluding chapters consider theoretical perspectives and comparative issues.

Trophic Cascades provides a scientific basis and justification for the idea that large predators and top-down forcing must be considered in conservation strategies, alongside factors such as habitat preservation and invasive species. It is a groundbreaking work for scientists and managers involved with biodiversity conservation and protection.


Foreword \ Ellen K. Pikitch
Chapter 1. Trophic Cascades: What They Are, How They Work, and Why They Matter \ John Terborgh, Robert D. Holt, and James A. Estes
PART I. Aquatic Ecosystems
Chapter 2. Food Chain Dynamics and Trophic Cascades in Intertidal Habitats \ Robert T. Paine
Chapter 3. Some Effects of Apex Predators in Higher-Latitude Coastal Oceans \ James A. Estes, Charles H. Peterson, and Robert S. Steneck
Chapter 4. Trophic Cascades in Lakes: Lessons and Prospects \ Stephen R. Carpenter, Jonathan J. Cole, James F. Kitchell, and Michael L. Pace
Chapter 5. Prey Release,Trophic Cascades, and Phase Shifts in Tropical Nearshore Ecosystems \ Stuart A. Sandin, Sheila M.Walsh, and Jeremy B. C. Jackson
Chapter 6. Trophic Cascades in Open Ocean Ecosystems \ Tim Essington
PART II. Terrestrial Ecosystems
Chapter 7. The Role of Herbivores in Terrestrial Trophic Cascades \ Robert J. Marquis
Chapter 8. Propagation of Trophic Cascades via Multiple Pathways in Tropical Forests \ John Terborgh and Kenneth Feeley
Chapter 9. Large Predators, Deer, and Trophic Cascades in Boreal and Temperate Ecosystems \ William J. Ripple,Thomas P. Rooney, and Robert L. Beschta
Chapter 10. Islands as Tests of the Green World Hypothesis \ Lauri Oksanen,Tarja Oksanen, Jonas Dahlgren, Peter Hambäck, Per Ekerholm, Åsa Lindgren, and Johan Olofsson
Chapter 11. Trophic Cascades on Islands \ Thomas W. Schoener and David A. Spiller
Chapter 12. Trophic Cascades,Aboveground?Belowground Linkages, and Ecosystem Functioning \ David A.Wardle
PART III. Predation and Ecosystem Processes
Chapter 13. Ecological and Conservation Implications of Mesopredator Release \ Justin S. Brashares, Laura R. Prugh, Chantal J. Stoner, and Clinton W. Epps
Chapter 14. Fear-Mediated Food Webs \ Joel Berger
Chapter 15. Trophic Cascades in African Savanna: Serengeti as a Case Study \ A. R. E. Sinclair, Kristine Metzger, Justin S. Brashares,Ally Nkwabi, Gregor Sharam, and John M. Fryxell
Chapter 16. Consumer Control by Megafauna and Fire \ William Bond
Chapter 17. Alternative States in Ecosystems \ Marten Scheffer
PART IV. Synthesis
Chapter 18. Theoretical Perspectives on Trophic Cascades: Current Trends and Future Directions \ Robert D. Holt, Ricardo M. Holdo, and F. J. Frank van Veen
Chapter 19. Comparing Trophic Cascades across Ecosystems \ Jonathan B. Shurin, Russell W. Markel, and Blake Matthews
Chapter 20. Conservation Relevance of Ecological Cascades \ Michael E. Soulé
Chapter 21. Conclusion: Our Trophically Degraded Planet \ John Terborgh and James A. Estes

Customer Reviews


John Terborgh is James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Sciences and codirector of the Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University. He has devoted much of the past 35 years to issues concerning the ecology and conservation of neotropical systems.

After spending most of his career as a research scientist with the US Geological Survey, James A. Estes is currently a faculty member at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he holds a position of professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

By: John Terborgh(Editor), James A Estes(Editor), Ellen K Pikitch(Foreword By)
464 pages, Figs, tabs
Publisher: Island Press
Media reviews

"It is the first well-written and comprehensive book about this subject [...] it will certain become a classic in ecological literature."

"This book is provocative and demands sustained, deep thought on the part of readers. Many bold, large, synthetic ideas are proposed, albeit often tentatively, and the relevant literature is not only from ecology and conservation biology but from archeology, paleobiology, mathematics, and other fields [...] One should not read Trophic Cascades in search of insights on restoration techniques. Rather, any restoration biologist should read it as a challenging, mind-expanding exercise, inspiring thoughts about why we try to restore, what we try to restore to, what might be feasible, why we have succeeded or failed, and why an ecosystem perspective is absolutely necessary."
– Ecological Restoration

" [...] this book is a very valuable source for all students and researchers and for the first time provides an excellent overview of our current knowledge on trophic cascades in different ecosystems."
Basic and Applied Ecology

"This book is an excellent, comprehensive resource on trophic cascades [...] This is a comprehensive book. Its dramatic examples and bold conclusions make for exciting and challenging reading. It is a timely and compelling synthesis of evidence relating to trophic cascades."
Austral Ecology

"This book provides a great deal of clarity"
– Natural Areas Journal

"The complexities of nature, the importance of keystone predators, and the dynamic nature of populations are clearly described in these well-written, thought-provoking papers, well suited for general audiences."

"In the first comprehensive work on trophic cascades, leading experts in terrestrial, marine, and lake food webs distill decades of evidence and lifetimes of insight to show that large carnivores, as apex predators, exert ubiquitous and powerful effects over nature. This landmark book argues, compellingly, that the ongoing worldwide loss of megacarnivores not only impoverishes Earth's biota, but also undermines life support services needed for thriving human societies."
– Mary E. Power, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley

"When two or more people sleep on a waterbed, one person rolling over is likely to disturb the others. The ecological world is like a gigantic waterbed in which disturbances ripple through webs, or branching chains of species, with unforeseen effects. Trophic Cascades provides a comprehensive account of what life's waterbed is really like: When a population is changed, introduced, or eradicated, trophic cascades can change the numbers or behavior of even the most ecologically remote species in ways that seem counterintuitive. The authors discuss the conservation significance of trophic cascades on land, in oceans, and in fresh water. This great book will become a classic centerpiece of the ecological literature."
– Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author

"Predators everywhere are threatened by human impact, underscoring Aldo Leopold's dictum that intelligent tinkering requires saving all the parts; yet we've failed to appreciate the significant roles of these animals in structuring ecosystems. Terborgh and Estes, both distinguished field biologists, provide a wide-ranging set of scholarly reviews. Trophic Cascades is natural history at its best, outstanding science in the service of conserving the diversity of life on earth."
– Harry W. Greene, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

"This important book focuses attention on a relatively neglected aspect of the Biodiversity Crisis, namely that species higher up in food chains are differentially important, and also differentially at risk. The book's rich array of well-studied examples of consequent 'trophic cascades' of damage to ecosystems and the services they deliver deserves wide attention, with the lessons incorporated in conservation planning. Read this book."
– Professor Lord Robert May, Department of Zoology, Oxford University

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