How can the future number of deer, agricultural pests, or cod be calculated based on the present number of individuals and their age distribution? How long will it take for a viral outbreak in a particular city to reach another city five hundred miles away? In addressing such basic questions, ecologists today are as likely to turn to complicated differential equations as to life histories--a dramatic change from thirty years ago. Population ecology is the mathematical backbone of ecology. Here, two leading experts provide the underlying quantitative concepts that all modern-day ecologists need.
John Vandermeer and Deborah Goldberg show that populations are more than simply collections of individuals. Complex variables such as the size distribution of individuals and allotted territory for expanding groups come into play when mathematical models are applied. The authors build these models from the ground up, from first principles, using a much broader range of empirical examples--from plants to animals, from viruses to humans--than do standard texts. And they address several complicating issues such as age-structured populations, spatially distributed populations, and metapopulations.
Beginning with a review of elementary principles, the book goes on to consider theoretical issues involving life histories, complications in the application of the core principles, statistical descriptions of spatial aggregation of individuals and populations as well as population dynamic models incorporating spatial information, and introductions to two-species interactions.
Complemented by superb illustrations that further clarify the links between the mathematical models and biology, Population Ecology is the most straightforward and authoritative overview of the field to date. It will have broad appeal among undergraduates, graduate students, and practicing ecologists.
"Amidst the recent plethora of undergraduate books on population ecology emerges this superbly crafted volume. . . . What distinguishes this from most of its predecessors is an uncommon breadth of subject matter . . . a fine balance between patronizing the knowledgeable reader and overwhelming the interested novice, and a highly commendable means by which the information is communicated. Following an impressive range of topics in the opening chapter is one of the best-written introductions to the life history theory that this reviewer has encountered in 20 years of research on the topic."--Choice
"What distinguishes this book from others in the field is the diverse array of topics covered that are rarely or only cursorily treated in other books. . . . What I enjoyed most about this book were the frequent discussions on the ecological interpretation of the mathematical results and the corresponding caveats. . . . Vandermeer and Goldberg do an admirable job of explaining the ecological meaning and assumptions behind all of the mathematical results presented. They include many figures that illustrate their points clearly and these are accompanied with detailed verbal explanations."--Helen M. Regan, Ecology
"Population ecology is rapidly maturing as a theoretical science. One sign of this maturity is the ongoing synthesis between sophisticated mathematical theory and innovative experimental approaches. Yet the traditional education in biology does not equip students with the tools they need to fully appreciate these new theoretical developments. Here is where this admirable book by Vandermeer and Goldberg comes in. A particularly enjoyable aspect of Population Ecology: First Principles is the ability of the authors to relate the complex tapestry of ecological theory to a few fundamental quantitative principles."--Peter Turchin, University of Connecticut
Table of Contents
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Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by John H. Vandermeer:
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