The Loom of Life: Unravelling Ecosystems

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Product description Review From the reviews: "Evolutionary biologist and science writer Menno Schilthuizen retells the story of the Wilson-Simberloff experiment at some length in The Loom of Life.

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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. Wow, what a great introductory ecology book for interested laymen!


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I had read a laudatory review of the book in Nature, and decided that it sounded interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that it is only pages. And those are very small pages. The pages are only perhaps twice the size of a mass-market paperback, and the book is at most half the thickness of a mass-market paperback.

I thought it was incredibly interesting, and it did a reasonable job of avoiding the mathematical examples that would frighten off most laymen- there are only a few graphs, and no equations. It will do this by zooming out from the local scale to the global scale in a number of steps, marrying community ecology with macroecology, and introducing unexpected nuggets of natural history along the way.

The reader will notice that, the larger the scale, the more the familiar niche-concept appears to be overshadowed by exotic fields from fractal and complexity theory. However, scientists differ in opinion on the scale at which niches become irrelevant. These differences of opinion, but also the search for unified ecological theories, will form another force by which the story will be carried along to its conclusion.

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A conclusion which, surprisingly, seeks to find a glimpse of the globe's future in the traces from its past. Stun your friends with bang up to date knowledge of what ecosystems are, how they function and how theory about them has developed. Stylish accessible account if you haven't time to read all the books and papers on ecosystems, with sly humour.

The author born in is a Dutch biologist and science writer with a doctorate from Leiden University.

Menno Schilthuizen

In its search for unified ecological theories, it gleans from our globe's past to glimpse the troubled future. Produkt empfehlen.

Sprache: Englisch. Auf meinen Merkzettel.


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    The Loom of Life

    The issues are complex. Every species may seem to have its own unique role, but if that is true, then why are there hundreds of species of plankton in an ecosystem with only a handful of niches? The tropics have a high biodiversity, but does anybody know why? And how can a single introduced tree species wreak havoc in Hawaii's rainforests, when it is one of thousands of quietly coexisting tree species in its native continent, South America?

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