Ecology of Climate Change: The Importance of Biotic Interactions (Monographs in Population Biology) Hardcover – 11 Aug 2013
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"In this book . . . Post steps outside this traditional approach to offer a detailed exploration of the role that biotic interactions might play in ecosystem responses to climate change. The book is a highly detailed, well-illustrated, and thoroughly explained argument that these biotic interactions are not just factors that must be taken into consideration, but rather might be in fact determining how individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems respond to climate change."--"Choice"
"A truly extraordinary amount of information is contained in this book, ranging from historic climate change to future predictions, and from species through ecosystems. Post certainly achieves his stated goal of showcasing the role of biotic interactions in determining how ecological systems respond to climate change. I plan to assign course readings from this book in my future teaching career, and I foresee myself pulling it off the shelf frequently as a reference."--Amy M. Iler, "Ecology"
"Eric Post's recent book, "Ecology of Climate Change: The Importance of Biotic Interactions," has an important role to play. It can increase understanding among budding and established biologists by serving as a reference and tutorial. . . . No volume can provide the definitive answer on a topic as broad and complex--or as important--as climate change ecology, but Post's contribution is a useful start."--"BioScience"
"Researchers in the fields of ecology and conservation will greatly benefit from having this book."--Richard Kotter, "International Journal of Environmental Studies"
"Post challenges the reader to think deeply about how climate change is intrinsic to ecosystem complexity. Post elegantly draws upon important theories in ecology (e.g., life history, niche, biodiversity) and rolls out the red carpet for clearly understanding the ecological impacts of climate change, while providing a theoretical structure for the direction of future research. . . . "Ecology of Climate Change" is comprehensive and thorough, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to push the limits of our understanding of how ecosystems are responding to climate change."--Jerod A. Merkle, "Journal of Wildlife Management"
From the Back Cover
"I believe that this book will become the go-to reference for gaining a foundational understanding of how global climate change has and will continue to transform ecological systems in the face of anthropogenic impacts. An encyclopedic synthesis of the field, it provides exemplary coverage of the vast literature. This is an authoritative treatment of an important topic in ecology and conservation."--Oswald J. Schmitz, Yale University
"To predict the responses of species to climate change, Post shows how interactions between species may be as important as density-independent responses to changes in their abiotic environment. Most ecologists have focused on the latter. Post makes a great case that the response of species to climate change is likely to unfold in the context of their interactions with other species, through competition, predation, and, in the case of humans, land-use change."--William H. Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesSee all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's ALMOST time for a comprehensive text on the ecology of climate change. Almost, but not quite--because the ratio of known unknowns to unknown unknowns is still not in our favor. The ecology of climate change, as currently (vaguely) understood, consists of an attempt to extrapolate existing single-species, community, and ecosystem models, with the climatic boundary conditions reset. This is a very tall order. In the heyday of "K and r selection" as a panacea in evolutionary ecology, it was pointed out that the concept was based on how natural populations were regulated--knowledge still denied us a couple of decades later for the vast majority of species; even ones like lemmings that have been tracked and studied for (academic) generations. If we have such a meager understanding of species dynamics and interactions under real, observable climatic constraints, how are we to project them into a rapidly-changing set of future constraints?
The one thing that seems crystal clear, based not on modeling exercises but on the micro- and macrofossil record, is that when it comes to defining the "community," Gleason wins and Clements loses. Hands down. The "community" is the set of species that co-occur at a given place and time in a given climate. The past is full of "communities" with no analogues in the world today; we can be reasonably confident that today's "communities" will be similarly reshuffled in the future. This means we cannot think of whole multispecies systems moving in response to climate change. We have to consider the individual species reacting individualistically.
Most practitioners of ecoclimatic crystal-ball gazing realize that we are severely limited not only by the complications of modeling but by the limitations of the climatic-envelope or niche-modeling approach, and ultimately by our imaginations. The European land snail Cepaea nemoralis made it from Spain to Denmark at the end of the Pleistocene thousands of years faster than it should have, moving at its own snail's pace. It probably did it by hitching rides on the feet of migratory birds. Nature is cleverer than our models.
So Post has done about as well as can be expected, given the rather primitive state of our crystal-gazing. He leans very heavily on his own work in the Arctic, which is natural. As an entomologist I was disappointed by his apparent unfamiliarity with the large body of literature on climatic inputs into insect population dynamics. I have begun telling grad students to find and read a copy of Andrewartha and Birch, "The Distribution and Abundance of Animals" (1954)(hint: look on Amazon.com!). Post does not reference it. The argument about density-dependent and density-independent regulation, which supposedly went stale decades ago, is fully refreshed in the context of climate change. (Hey, does anybody remember Liebig's "Law of the Minimum?")
Anyone interested in the subject has to read this book, but the more sophisticated the reader, the more obvious it will be that a book on the same subject ten years from now will be both very different and very much better. The evolutionary dimension of the ecology of climate change is the new frontier, barely mentioned here. Between "provenance studies" of forest trees, ecotype studies of other plants, "landscape genetics," and experimental studies of the genetic basis of adaptation using, e.g., Arabidopsis, we are in a position to drastically improve the ratio of known unknowns: unknown unknowns, and thus to put the ecology of climate change on a sounder footing.
Strengths: This book was a very good introductory text, not only for understanding climate change, but also community ecology in general. The material was organized in a logical fashion, beginning with an overview of current climate projections and the global climate models, then providing an overview of Pleistocene warming and its role in past extinctions and range shifts. Subsequent chapters addressed climate change at increasingly broad scales, going from population-level variation in life history traits and phenology all the way up to ecosystem function and dynamics (however, the importance of individual-level / genotypic variation was conspicuously absent). Examples from high latitude systems--where climate change is happening most rapidly and species interactions are most tractable--were abundant and well-explained. The final chapter also did a good job summarizing climate feedbacks.
Weaknesses: As the title suggests, the scope of this text is massive, and as such, there were a lot of notable omissions. Arctic systems were featured prominently, and although this makes sense given the authorâ€™s expertise and the relative paucity of literature from other systems, other examples would have been appreciated. Marine systems were almost entirely ignored, and examples from terrestrial invertebrates were also conspicuously absent. Even though the overall structure of the book made sense, the conceptual underpinnings of the book were not entirely apparent until the fifth chapter, which addressed the niche concept. The tension/facilitation idea introduced near the beginning of the book initially seemed like an interesting lens for thinking about the biotic impacts of climate change, but he eventually abandoned this framework. Finally, some figures were difficult to interpret, in part because they were often borrowed from the literature and didnâ€™t translate well to half-page black and white figures.
Overall comments: Ultimately, this book serves as a reminder of how little we actually know and can predict how climate change will affect species/ecosystems, but it does a really good job of attempting to tie everything together. Will it become a classic in the ecological literature? Almost certainly not, given both the rapidity with which the climate is changing and our understanding of ecological processes is advancing. Indeed, even since its publication in 2013, many new illustrative studies have emerged that would have been worth including (unprecedented bivoltinism in bark beetles immediately come to mind). Still, for the time being, this should be the go-to text for those interested in gaining a broader understanding of how climate change is impacting the biosphere.
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