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Animal Ecology by Charles S. Elton

Animal Ecology

by Charles S. Elton

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0226206394, Paperback)

In 1927, writing in a white heat over just three months, a 26-year-old biologist named Charles Elton set down what he knew, and what he thought, of the emerging science of ecology. The result, Animal Ecology, proved immensely influential as a textbook and survey, and it went through many editions over the years.

As will happen, though, Elton's accessible, engaging book eventually fell out of currency, and it finally went out of print in the 1970s. But, write University of Chicago-based ecologists Mathew A. Leibold and J. Timothy Wootton in their introduction to this welcome reissue, Elton's book itself never really went out of date. The ideas it presents, from plant succession (a scientist observing a landscape from a balloon for a hundred years, Elton writes, "would notice that the zones of vegetation appeared to be moving about slowly and deliberately in different directions"), to factors such as food cycles and population size that condition animal communities, to the complex interactions that occur within ecological systems, all remain staples of environmental thought. Elton was far-seeing as well: his book was among the first to articulate the concept of ecological niches, the consequences of animal and plant invasions, and the role of climate change as a determinant of population size.

Animal Ecology is of enduring value to modern ecologists, and general readers with an interest in natural history will learn much from it as well. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:08 -0400)

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