Population Ecology: First Principles

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9780691114408: Population Ecology: First Principles
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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.

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From the Inside Flap:

"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

"Vandermeer and Goldberg have written an outstanding book that synthesizes and summarizes the fundamental concepts and principles of population ecology. Its highly approachable treatment of models should give students deep and intuitive insights into population ecology. Because the mathematical techniques presented in the book represent the core toolbox of the discipline, this book is essential reading for anyone going into population and community ecology."--David Tilman, University of Minnesota

"This is an excellent book that I look forward to using in the classroom. It is one of the most understandable in the field. The authors present, in more tractable fashion than do some similar books, fundamental material that all ecologists need. Anyone in the life sciences should immediately recognize the importance of the material. Scholars in economics and the social sciences should also see that the book is very relevant to their disciplines."--David J. Moriarty, California State Polytechnic University

"One of this book's greatest strengths is the way it emphasizes the processes underlying standard ecological models. Rather than relying on plausibility arguments, the authors start from simple mechanistic models--for instance, deriving the Lotka-Volterra competition equations from a model of resource competition. They also present a nice range of practical examples."--Ben Bolker, University of Florida

About the Author:

John H. Vandermeer is Margaret Davis Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. He is the author of several books, including Breakfast of Biodiversity and Reconstructing Biology. Deborah E. Goldberg is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. She has published widely in journals such as Ecology, American Naturalist, and the Journal of Ecology and is currently interim director of the University of Michigan Herbarium.

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9780691114415: Population Ecology: First Principles

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Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2003
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