This is an excellent introduction to the subject of ecology. Easy to read without being oversimplified, it provides a detailed overview of the principles of ecology. It's main strength is the constant use of examples and case studies to illustrate the points. It looks at the functioning of individuals and species within environments, environmental factors, interactions within ecosystems, biomes, and behavioural and genetic factors, as well as distribution and conservation. Ecological terms are explained as they are encountered, making it easier for those new to the subject. Scientific studies are described which inform the principles described, and conflicting theories explained. Some understanding of biology is presupposed, and the mathematical content assumes some knowledge of equations, logarithms and scientific notation: although the case studies are so well explained in the text, that the principle of each one can be understood even if the mathematics remain a mystery! There is also an emphasis on the application of ecology to conservation, and two chapters at the end concentrate specifically on conservation. As someone new to the subject but with an interest in conservation and how ecosystems work, I found this a fascinating, informative book.
Despite 15 years passing since this book was written, I was pleased to find the principles and applications contained, to be still completely relevant and a very close approximation of ecology today. (Though going by the figures on p292, we have since lost 10% of the world's rainforest.)
It was necessary to have a book of this size to communicate the sheer variety of living organisms which interact in so many unforeseen ways. Only by establishing the degree of complexity and fragility to change, can the reader appreciate the impact of change to stable habitats.
Sadly the inevitable conclusion (in the last two chapters,) is that the chief culprit for damage is mankind. However, using the wealth of principles given throughout this book, I feel the application chapter is very well reasoned.
Perhaps there are now similar books out with more colour photos and the very latest climate forecasts, but this book is sound in science an rich in detail. It would particularly suit both sixth form & 1st year undergraduates.