The Economy of Nature

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-12-17
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman
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This classic introductory text offers a balanced survey of ecology. It is best known for its vivid examples from natural history, comprehensive coverage of evolution and quantitative approach. The Sixth Edition builds on the book's hallmark features: its strong evolutionary focus, its breadth and diverse set of examples from key studies, its extensive coverage of behavioral ecology, and its thorough presentation of population ecology.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction
Ecological systems can be as small as individual organisms or as large as the biosphere
Ecologists study nature from several perspectives
Plants, animals, and microorganisms play different roles in ecological systems
The habitat defines an organism’s place in nature; the niche defines its functional role
Ecological systems and processes have characteristic scales in time and space
Ecological systems are governed by basic physical and biological principles
Ecologists study the natural world by observation and experimentation
Humans are a prominent part of the biosphere
Ecologists in the Field: Introduction of the Nile perch into Lake Victoria
The California sea otter
Human impacts on the natural world have increasingly become a focus of ecology
Part I Life and the Physical Environment
Chapter 2 Adaptations to the Environment: Water and Nutrients

Water has many properties favorable to life
Many inorganic nutrients are dissolved in water
Plants obtain water and nutrients from the soil by the osmotic potential of their root cells
Forces generated by transpiration help to move water from roots to leaves
Salt balance and water balance go hand in hand
Ecologists in the Field:Flip-flopping osmoregulation in a small marine invertebrate
Animals must excrete excess nitrogen without losing too much water
Chapter 3 Adaptations to the Physical Environment: Light, Energy, and Heat
Light is the primary source of energy for the biosphere
Plants capture the energy of sunlight by photosynthesis
Plants modify photosynthesis in environments with high water stress
Diffusion limits uptake of dissolved gases from water
Temperature limits the occurrence of life
Each organism functions best under a restricted range of temperatures
The thermal environment includes several avenues of heat gain and loss
Global Change: Carbon dioxide and global warming
Ecologists in the Field: Keeping cool on tropical islands
Homeothermy increases metabolic rate and efficiency
Chapter 4 Variation in the Environment: Climate, Water, and Soil
Global patterns in temperature and precipitation are established by solar radiation
Ocean currents redistribute heat
Latitudinal shifting of the sun’s zenith causes seasonal variation in climate
Temperature-induced changes in water density drive seasonal cycles in temperate lakes
Climate and weather undergo irregular and often unpredictable changes
Ecologists in the Field: A half-million-year climatic record
Topographic features cause local variation in climate
Climate and the underlying bedrock interact to diversify soils
Ecologists in the Field: Which came first, the soil or the forest?
Chapter 5 The Biome Concept in Ecology
Climate is the major determinant of plant growth form and distribution
Climate defines the boundaries of terrestrial biomes
Walter climate diagrams distinguish the major terrestrial biomes
Temperate climate zones have average annual temperatures between 5 degrees C and 20 degrees C
Boreal and polar climate zones have average temperatures below 5 degrees C
Climate zones within tropical latitudes have average temperatures exceeding 20 degrees C
The biome concept must be modified for freshwater aquatic systems
Marine aquatic systems are classified principally by water depth
Part II Organisms
Chapter 6 Evolution and Adaptation

The phenotype is the outward expression of an individual’s genotype
Adaptations result from natural selection on heritable variation in traits that affect evolutionary fitness
Ecologists in the Field: Rapid evolution in response to an introduced parasitoid
Evolutionary changes in allele frequencies have been documented in natural populations
Individuals can respond to their environments and increase their fitness
Phenotypic plasticity allows individuals to adapt to environmental change
Ecologists in the Field: A reciprocal transplant experiment
Chapter 7 Life Histories and Evolutionary Fitness
Trade-offs in the allocation of resources provide a basis for understanding life histories
Life histories vary along a slow–fast continuum
Life histories balance trade-offs between current and future reproduction
Ecologists in the Field: The cost of parental investment in the European kestrel
Semelparous organisms breed once and then die
Senescence is a decline in physiological function with increasing age
Global Change: Global warming and flowering time
Life histories respond to variation in the environment
Individual life histories are sensitive to environmental influences
Animals forage in a manner that maximizes their fitness
Ecologists in the Field: Optimal foraging by starlings
Data Analysis Module 1: Spatially Partitioned Foraging by Oceanic Seabirds
Chapter 8 Sex and Evolution
Sexual reproduction mixes the genetic material of two individuals
Sexual reproduction is costly
Sex is maintained by the advantages of producing genetically varied offspring
Ecologists in the Field: Parasites and sex in freshwater snails
Individuals may have female function, male function, or both
The sex ratio of offspring is modified by natural selection
Ecologists in the Field: Effects of fishing on sex switching
Mating systems describe the pattern of pairing of males and females within a population
Sexual selection can result in sexual dimorphism
Chapter 9 Family, Society, and Evolution
Territoriality and dominance hierarchies organize social interactions within populations
Individuals gain advantages and suffer disadvantages from living in groups
Natural selection balances the costs and benefits of social behaviors
Kin selection favors altruistic behaviors toward related individuals
Ecologists in the Field: Are cooperative acts always acts of altruism?
Cooperation among individuals in extended families implies the operation of kin selection
Game theory analyses illustrate the difficulties for cooperation among unrelated individuals
Parents and offspring may come into conflict over levels of parental investment
Insect societies arise out of sibling altruism and parental dominance
Part III Populations
Chapter 10 The Distribution and Spatial Structure of Populations

Populations are limited to ecologically suitable habitats
Ecological niche modeling predicts the distributions of species
Global Change: Changing ocean temperatures and shifting fish distributions
The dispersion of individuals reflects habitat heterogeneity and social interactions
The spatial structure of populations parallels environmental variation
Three types of models describe the spatial structure of populations
Dispersal is essential to the integration of populations
Ecologists in the Field: Effects of habitat corridors on dispersal and distributions in an Atlantic coastal plain pine forest
Macroecology addresses patterns of range size and population density
Chapter 11 Population Growth and Regulation
Populations grow by multiplication rather than addition
Age structure influences population growth rate
A life table summarizes age-specific schedules of survival and fecundity
Ecologists in the Field: Building life tables for natural populations
The intrinsic rate of increase can be estimated from the life table
Population size is regulated by density-dependent factors
Data Analysis Module 2: Birth and Death Rates Influence Population Age Structure and Growth Rate
Chapter 12 Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Populations
Fluctuation is the rule for natural populations
Temporal variation affects the age structure of populations
Population cycles result from time delays in the response of populations to their own densities
Ecologists in the Field: Time delays and oscillations in blowfly populations
Metapopulations are discrete subpopulations linked by movements of individuals
Chance events may cause small populations to go extinct

Data Analysis Module 3 Stochastic Extinction with Variable Population Growth Rates
Chapter 13 Population Genetics
The ultimate source of genetic variation is mutation
Genetic markers can be used to study population processes
Genetic variation is maintained by mutation, migration, and environmental variation
The Hardy–Weinberg law describes the frequencies of alleles and genotypes in ideal populations
Inbreeding reduces the frequency of heterozygotes in a population
Ecologists in the Field: Inbreeding depression and selective abortion in plants
Genetic drift in small populations causes loss of genetic variation
Population growth and decline leave different genetic traces
Loss of variation by genetic drift is balanced by mutation and migration
Selection in spatially variable environments can differentiate populations genetically
Part IV Species Interactions
Chapter 14. Species Interactions

All organisms are involved in consumer–resource interactions
The dynamics of consumer–resource interactions reflect mutual evolutionary responses
Ecologists in the Field: Predator avoidance and growth performance in frog larvae
Parasites maintain a delicate consumer–resource relationship with their hosts
Herbivory varies with the quality of plants as resources
Competition may be an indirect result of other types of interactions
Individuals of different species can collaborate in mutualistic interactions
Ecologists in the Field: Acacias house and feed the ants that protect them from herbivores
Chapter 15 Dynamics of Consumer–Resource Interactions
Consumers can limit resource populations
Many predator and prey populations increase and decrease in regular cycles
Ecologists in the Field: Huffaker’s experiments on mite populations
Simple mathematical models can reproduce cyclic predator–prey interaction
Pathogen–host dynamics can be described by the S-I-R model
Ecologists in the Field: Testing a prediction of the Lotka–Volterra model
The chytrid fungus and the global decline of amphibians
The Lotka–Volterra model can be stabilized by predator satiation
A number of factors can reduce oscillations in predator–prey models
Consumer-resource systems can have more than one stable state
Data Analysis Module 4 Maximum Sustainable Yield: Applying Basic Ecological Concepts to Fisheries Management
Chapter 16 Competition
Consumers compete for resources
Failure of species to coexist in laboratory cultures led to the competitive exclusion principle
The theory of competition and coexistence is an extension of logistic growth models
Asymmetric competition can occur when different factors limit the populations of competitors
Habitat productivity can influence competition between plant species
Competition may occur through direct interference
Consumers can influence the outcome of competition
Ecologists in the Field: Apparent competition between corals and algae mediated by microbes
Chapter 17 Evolution of Species Interactions
Adaptations in response to predation demonstrate selection by biological agents
Antagonists evolve in response to each other
Ecologists in the Field: Evolution in houseflies and their parasitoids
Coevolution in plant-pathogen systems reveals genotype–genotype interactions
Consumer and resource populations can achieve an evolutionary steady state
Competitive ability responds to selection
Ecologists in the Field: Back from the brink of extermination
Coevolution involves mutual evolutionary responses by interacting populations
Ecologists in the Field: A counterattack for every defense
Global Change: Invasive plant species and the role of herbivores
Part V Communities
Chapter 18 Community Structure

A biological community is an association of interacting populations
Measures of community structure include numbers of species and trophic levels
Feeding relationships organize communities in food webs
Food web structure influences the stability of communities
Ecologists in the Field: Does species diversity help communities bounce back from disturbance?
Communities can switch between alternative stable states
Ecologists in the Field: Mimicking the effects of ice scouring on the rocky coast of Maine
Trophic levels are influenced from above by predation and from below by production
Ecologists in the Field: A trophic cascade from fish to flowers
Chapter 19 Ecological Succession and Community Development
The concept of the sere includes all the stages of successional change
Ecologists in the Field: Gap size influences succession on marine hard substrata
Succession ensues as colonists alter environmental conditions
Ecologists in the Field: Plant life histories influence old-field succession
Succession becomes self-limiting as it approaches the climax
Chapter 20 Biodiversity
Variation in the relative abundance of species influences concepts of biodiversity
The number of species increases with the area sampled
Large-scale patterns of diversity reflect latitude, environmental heterogeneity, and productivity
Diversity has both regional and local components
Ecologists in the Field: Species sorting in wetland plant communities
Diversity can be understood in terms of niche relationships
Equilibrium theories of diversity balance factors that add and remove species
Explanations for high tree species richness in the tropics focus on forest dynamics
Data Analysis Module 5 Quantifying Biodiversity
Chapter 21 History, Biogeography, and Biodiversity
Life has unfolded over millions of years of geologic time
Continental drift influences the geography of evolution
Biogeographic regions reflect long-term evolutionary isolation
Climate change influences the distributions of organisms
Organisms in similar environments tend to converge in form and function
Closely related species show both convergence and divergence in ecological distributions
Species richness in similar environments often fails to converge between different regions
Ecologists in the Field: Why are there so many more temperate tree species in Asia?
Processes on large geographic and temporal scales influence biodiversity
Part VI Ecosystems
Chapter 22 Energy in the Ecosystem

Ecosystem function obeys thermodynamic principles
Primary production provides energy to the ecosystem
Many factors influence primary production
Primary production varies among ecosystems
Only 5%–20% of assimilated energy passes between trophic levels
Energy moves through ecosystems at different rates
Ecosystem energetics summarizes the movement of energy
Chapter 23 Pathways of Elements in Ecosystems
Energy transformations and element cycling are intimately linked
Ecosystems can be modeled as a series of linked compartments
Water provides a physical model of element cycling in ecosystems
The carbon cycle is closely tied to the flux of energy through the biosphere
Ecologists in the Field: What caused the rapid decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the Devonian?
Global Change: Rising carbon dioxide concentrations and the productivity of grasslands
Nitrogen assumes many oxidation states in its cycling through ecosystems
Ecologists in the Field: The fate of soil nitrate in a temperate forest
The phosphorus cycle is chemically uncomplicated
Sulfur exists in many oxidized and reduced forms
Microorganisms assume diverse roles in element cycles
Chapter 24 Nutrient Regeneration in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems
Weathering makes nutrients available in terrestrial ecosystems
Nutrient regeneration in terrestrial ecosystems occurs in the soil
Mycorrhizal associations of fungi and plant roots promote nutrient uptake
Nutrient regeneration can follow many paths
Climate affects pathways and rates of nutrient regeneration
Ecologists in the Field: Will global warming speed the decomposition of organic matter in boreal forest soils?
In aquatic ecosystems, nutrients are regenerated slowly in deep water and sediments
Stratification hinders nutrient cycling in aquatic ecosystems
Oxygen depletion facilitates regeneration of nutrients in deep waters
Nutrient inputs control production in freshwater and shallow-water marine ecosystems
Nutrients limit production in the oceans
Ecologists in the Field: Does iron limit marine productivity?
Part VII Ecological Applications
Chapter 25 Landscape Ecology

Landscape mosaics reflect both natural and human influences
Landscape mosaics can be quantified using remote sensing, GPS, and GIS
Ecologists in the Field: Quantifying the habitat preferences of butterflies in Switzerland
Habitat fragmentation can affect species abundance and species richness
Habitat corridors and stepping stones can offset the effects of habitat fragmentation
Landscape ecology explicitly considers the quality of the matrix between habitat fragments
Different species perceive the landscape at different scales
Organisms depend on different landscape scales for different activities and at different life history stages
Chapter 26 Biodiversity, Extinction, and Conservation
Biological diversity has many components
Ecologists in the Field: Identifying biodiversity hotspots for conservation
The value of biodiversity arises from social, economic, and ecological considerations
Extinction is natural but its present rate is not
Human activities have accelerated the rate of extinction
Reserve designs for individual species must guarantee a self-sustaining population
Some critically endangered species have been rescued from the brink of extinction
Chapter 27 Economic Development and Global Ecology
Ecological processes hold the key to environmental policy
Human activities threaten local ecological processes
Toxins impose local and global environmental risks
Atmospheric pollution threatens the environment on a global scale
Human ecology is the ultimate challenge
Ecologists in the Field: Assessing the earth’s carrying capacity for humankind

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