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Nutrient Cycling and Limitation:
Hawai'i as a Model System
Peter M. Vitousek

Winner of the 2005 Marsh Ecology Book of the Year Award, British Ecological Society

Paperback | 2004 | $75.00 | £62.95 | ISBN: 9780691115801
232 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 10 halftones. 84 line illus. 18 tables.
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The availability or lack of nutrients shapes ecosystems in fundamental ways. From forest productivity to soil fertility, from the diversity of animals to the composition of microbial communities, nutrient cycling and limitation are the basic mechanisms underlying ecosystem ecology. In this book, Peter Vitousek builds on over twenty years of research in Hawai'i to evaluate the controls and consequences of variation in nutrient availability and limitation.

Integrating research from geochemistry, pedology, atmospheric chemistry, ecophysiology, and ecology, Vitousek addresses fundamental questions: How do the cycles of different elements interact? How do biological processes operating in minutes or hours interact with geochemical processes operating over millions of years? How does biological diversity interact with nutrient cycling and limitation in ecosystems? The Hawaiian Islands provide the author with an excellent model system for answering these questions as he integrates across levels of biological organization. He evaluates the connections between plant nutrient use efficiency, nutrient cycling and limitation within ecosystems, and nutrient input-output budgets of ecosystems.

This book makes use of the Hawaiian ecosystems to explore the mechanisms that shape productivity and diversity in ecosystems throughout the world. It will be essential reading for all ecologists and environmental scientists.


"[Vitousek's] work began by understanding the interactive controls over nutrient limitation after forest disturbance. In Nutrient Cycling and Limitation, Vitousek explores this theme on a grand canvas, basing it on his own work and that of a small army of students and collaborators. . . . This book will reward reading and re-reading, and is an excellent introduction to biogeochemical ecology for those coming from other fields of science."--David Schimel, Nature

"One of the most impressive aspects of Nutrient Cycling and Limitatio is the scope of the material it covers, and the extent to which the material is integrated to provide a truly ecosystem-level overview, that is itself placed neatly within a global context. . . . [T]he book provides a wide-ranging and authoritative coverage of a crucial topic."--Graeme Hastwell, Austral Ecology

"Peter Vitousek's Nutrient Cycling and Limitation makes an important contribution to the field of biogeochemistry. . . . [An] excellent book. . . . Nutrient Cycling and Limitation is essential reading for students and scientists interested in terrestrial biogeochemistry. It is a model of good science writing and a crisp and clear introduction to some of the big ideas that intrigue ecosystem ecologists."--Jerry Melillo, Bioscience


"Peter Vitousek is tied closely to the 'āina--the land--of Hawaii, both by birth and by the successful scientific career he has nurtured over the past two decades. His personal, and sometimes passionate, presentation sweeps across habitats, across phyla and across disciplines. It is an authoritative account of his research and his vision."--David M. Karl, University of Hawaii

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