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British Wildlife

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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Conservation Land Management (CLM) is a quarterly magazine that is widely regarded as essential reading for all who are involved in land management for nature conservation, across the British Isles. CLM includes long-form articles, events listings, publication reviews, new product information and updates, reports of conferences and letters.

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Academic & Professional Books  Ecology  Ecosystem & Landscape Ecology

Why Ecosystems Matter Preserving the Key to Our Survival

By: Christopher Wills(Author)
216 pages, 8 plates with colour photos and colour illustrations
Why Ecosystems Matter
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  • Why Ecosystems Matter ISBN: 9780192887573 Hardback Jul 2024 In stock
Price: £34.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

How our growing knowledge of the evolution of complex ecosystems, using the latest genetic tools, can help us heal them – and survive.

This is not another Chicken Little book about the environment. Every reader already knows how overpopulation, ignorance and tribalism are contributing to environmental destruction and breakdowns in public health. We are all aware of the grim possibility that during our lifetimes the Earth might "flip" to a new ecological equilibrium, threatening our very survival.

Why Ecosystems Matter explores an exciting new way to avoid such threats, by using our exponentially-growing knowledge of how evolution has shaped and is continuing to shape the complex communities of living ecosystems on which we all depend. Throughout this book we will visit ecosystems where the author has worked or has had direct experience, beginning with a tour of the amazing series of ecosystems that span the entire eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes. This journey provides a vivid glimpse of ecosystems' diversity and capacity for rapid change.

Next, we trace how Darwin gained a fundamental insight about the origins of such ecosystem complexity. He realized that, when subgroups of the same species inhabit even slightly different ecosystems, these subgroups will evolve in diverging directions. This divergent evolution is primarily driven by interactions with the many other species in each ecosystem, which are themselves evolving in different directions in the different ecosystems. We explore how this subtle and fascinating concept lies at the heart of the evolutionary ferment that powers ecosystem diversity and resilience – the bubbling evolutionary cauldrons of the book's title. This ferment pervades ecosystems, but it is especially active in their microorganism communities. We then examine the evolutionary forces that power these cauldrons, starting with between-species interactions and tunnelling down to their causes. Using real-world examples, we explore how the technologies available for measuring these changes are increasing exponentially in precision and scope. We show how this deluge of new genetic and environmental information can be used to protect and restore a wide variety of damaged ecosystems. Ecosystems have survived dramatic changes in the past, often becoming even more wondrous and diverse than before. We are now learning how this happens, and how we can preserve this astounding ability.


1. How Darwin Brought Evolution and Ecology Together
2. Lost Worlds
3. How Ecosystems Survive Change
4. The Genetic Contents of the Evolutionary Cauldron
5. How Entangled is an Entangled Bank
6. The Genetics, and the Boundless Potential, of Evolutionary Entanglements
7. Benefiting From the Bubbling Evolutionary Cauldrons
8. Venturing Beyond the Red Queen
9. Tipping Points
10. Retaining and Rebuilding the World's Evolutionary Cauldrons

Customer Reviews


Christoper Wills is Professor Emeritus at the University of California San Diego. Wills was the first to generate an enzyme with changed function through artificial selection, and to show the nature of the genetic change and the nature of the functional change. More recently, his research includes widespread negative density-dependent selection and how it maintains the diversity of tree species in tropical forests. His books include The Wisdom of the Genes (1990), The Darwinian Tourist (2010), and Green Equilibrium (2013).

By: Christopher Wills(Author)
216 pages, 8 plates with colour photos and colour illustrations
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