This book provides the first global synthesis of the biology of disturbed habitats and offers readers both the conceptual underpinnings and practical advice required to comprehend and address the unprecedented environmental challenges facing humans. Every habitat on earth has been impacted by natural disturbances such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, fires, floods, and droughts. Humans have contributed many additional disturbances such as mining, urbanization, forestry, agriculture, fishing, and recreation. These anthropogenic disturbances modify and often exacerbate the effects of the natural disturbances. Together, they result in the abrupt loss of biomass or ecosystem structure and function to create denuded surfaces where novel mixtures of native and non-native microbes, plants, and animals establish, grow, and die. The Biology of Disturbed Habitats examines both natural and anthropogenic disturbances in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. It explores how nutrients and productivity are altered in the disturbed habitats, the effects of disturbance on biodiversity, and the spatial and temporal dynamics of organisms that colonize disturbed habitats. This book also addresses how to manage disturbances through appropriate conservation and restoration measures, and discusses how climate change and overpopulation now represent the most challenging disturbances at a global scale.
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Lawrence R. Walker is a professor of plant ecology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research focuses on the mechanisms that drive plant succession after natural and anthropogenic disturbances including cyclones, volcanoes, landslides, mine tailings, and abandoned roads. These disturbances are located in tropical, temperate, boreal, and arctic biomes. He also studies the management of disturbances through restoration. Walker emphasizes comparisons across environmental gradients and many different types of disturbances, searching for useful generalizations about disturbance ecology, succession, and restoration. He has over 115 scientific publications, including seven books, has won several research awards, is co-editor of a book series, and is an ISI highly cited researcher.
"The prose is straightforward and readable by an audience with a wide array of specialties. Although the subject matter is vast, the book narrows in on the specifics with illustrative examples of disturbance within various ecosystems, showing how the small observable details fit into the much larger concepts. Tables and conceptual diagrams summarize major points, making the book useful for teachers who wish to introduce students to the variety of processes and effects of disturbance. I found the tables that show the chronological development of ecological concepts over the last century to be particularly convenient." Lee E. Frelich, University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology, St. Paul, BioScience
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