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Big Ecology

The Emergence of Ecosystem Science

David C. Coleman

Publication Year: 2010

In Big Ecology, David C. Coleman documents his historically fruitful ecological collaborations in the early years of studying large ecosystems in the United States. As Coleman explains, the concept of the ecosystem—a local biological community and its interactions with its environment—has given rise to many institutions and research programs, like the National Science Foundation’s program for Long Term Ecological Research. Coleman’s insider account of this important and fascinating trend toward big science takes us from the paradigm of collaborative interdisciplinary research, starting with the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957, through the International Biological Program (IBP) of the late 1960s and early 1970s, to the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs of the 1980s.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-x

This historical account presents the personal side of how a major discipline like ecosystem science developed, and how individual scientists hagtve been able to grow with and, in turn, influence and shape whole-system studies over more than forty years. There are several dozen survivors who were literally “present at the Creation,” in the sense used by ...

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pp. xi-13

This book has benefited from the input of many friends and colleagues in the ecological community. The following list provides the names of University of Georgia colleagues Dac Crossley, Alan Covich, John Drake, and Ted Gragson read over several chapters, and the book has benefited greatly from their insights. Thelma Richardson, Samantha ...

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Chapter 1. Intellectual Antecedents to Large-Scale Ecosystem Studies

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pp. 1-14

International scientific collaborations have a long and illustrious history that extends back into the nineteenth century. Biological programs lagged the programs in physics and astronomy until the advent of the International Biological Program (IBP) in the middle of the twentieth century. As a result...

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Chapter 2. How the International Biological Program Swept the Scientific World

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pp. 15-88

From the point of view of the constituent organisms in a community, the relative importance of different species can be compared more simply on the basis of their contribution to the energy flow of the community than in terms of biomass. The population which exploits the greatest quantity of stored energy is contributing most to...

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Chapter 3. The Origin and Evolution of the Long-Term Ecological Research Program

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pp. 89-144

The IBP served to consolidate ecosystem ecology, resulting in a permanent increase in funding support for the field. By pioneering in the use of computer modeling in ecology, IBP led to the creation of numerous smaller-scale models of ecological systems, and trained a generation of ecological researchers. “If you now...

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Chapter 4. The Future of Big Ecology: IGBP, AmeriFlux, NEON, and Other Major Initiatives

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pp. 145-184

This chapter presents an overview of the activities of various groups and networks conducting ecosystem studies. Some have had an extensive history, and others, such as the NEON program, were in their final establishment stages during 2009. This overview is followed by...


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pp. 185-214


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pp. 215-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780520945739
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520264755

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2010