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Monographs in Population Biology

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Monographs in Population Biology

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Geographical Genetics (MPB-38)

Bryan K. Epperson

Population genetics has made great strides in applying statistical analysis and mathematical modeling to understand how genes mutate and spread through populations over time. But real populations also live in space. Streams, mountains, and other geographic features often divide populations, limit migration, or otherwise influence gene flow. This book rigorously examines the processes that determine geographic patterns of genetic variation, providing a comprehensive guide to their study and interpretation.

Geographical Genetics has a unique focus on the mathematical relationships of spatial statistical measures of patterns to stochastic processes. It also develops the probability and distribution theory of various spatial statistics for analysis of population genetic data, detailing exact methods for using various spatial features to make precise inferences about migration, natural selection, and other dynamic forces. The book also reviews the experimental literature on the types of spatial patterns of genetic variation found within and among populations. And it makes an unprecedented strong connection between observed measures of spatial patterns and those predicted theoretically. Along the way, it introduces readers to the mathematics of spatial statistics, applications to specific population genetic systems, and the relationship between the mathematics of space-time processes and the formal theory of geographical genetics.

Written by a leading authority, this is the first comprehensive treatment of geographical genetics. It is a much-needed guide to the theory, techniques, and applications of a field that will play an increasingly important role in population biology and ecology.

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Mutualistic Networks

Jordi Bascompte

Mutualistic interactions among plants and animals have played a paramount role in shaping biodiversity. Yet the majority of studies on mutualistic interactions have involved only a few species, as opposed to broader mutual connections between communities of organisms. Mutualistic Networks is the first book to comprehensively explore this burgeoning field. Integrating different approaches, from the statistical description of network structures to the development of new analytical frameworks, Jordi Bascompte and Pedro Jordano describe the architecture of these mutualistic networks and show their importance for the robustness of biodiversity and the coevolutionary process.

Making a case for why we should care about mutualisms and their complex networks, this book offers a new perspective on the study and synthesis of this growing area for ecologists and evolutionary biologists. It will serve as the standard reference for all future work on mutualistic interactions in biological communities.

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Niche Construction

The Neglected Process in Evolution (MPB-37)

F. John Odling-Smee

The seemingly innocent observation that the activities of organisms bring about changes in environments is so obvious that it seems an unlikely focus for a new line of thinking about evolution. Yet niche construction--as this process of organism-driven environmental modification is known--has hidden complexities. By transforming biotic and abiotic sources of natural selection in external environments, niche construction generates feedback in evolution on a scale hitherto underestimated--and in a manner that transforms the evolutionary dynamic. It also plays a critical role in ecology, supporting ecosystem engineering and influencing the flow of energy and nutrients through ecosystems. Despite this, niche construction has been given short shrift in theoretical biology, in part because it cannot be fully understood within the framework of standard evolutionary theory.

Wedding evolution and ecology, this book extends evolutionary theory by formally including niche construction and ecological inheritance as additional evolutionary processes. The authors support their historic move with empirical data, theoretical population genetics, and conceptual models. They also describe new research methods capable of testing the theory. They demonstrate how their theory can resolve long-standing problems in ecology, particularly by advancing the sorely needed synthesis of ecology and evolution, and how it offers an evolutionary basis for the human sciences.

Already hailed as a pioneering work by some of the world's most influential biologists, this is a rare, potentially field-changing contribution to the biological sciences.

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Population and Community Ecology of Ontogenetic Development

André M. de Roos

Most organisms show substantial changes in size or morphology after they become independent of their parents and have to find their own food. Furthermore, the rate at which these changes occur generally depends on the amount of food they ingest. In this book, André de Roos and Lennart Persson advance a synthetic and individual-based theory of the effects of this plastic ontogenetic development on the dynamics of populations and communities.

De Roos and Persson show how the effects of ontogenetic development on ecological dynamics critically depend on the efficiency with which differently sized individuals convert food into new biomass. Differences in this efficiency--or ontogenetic asymmetry--lead to bottlenecks in and thus population regulation by either maturation or reproduction. De Roos and Persson investigate the community consequences of these bottlenecks for trophic configurations that vary in the number and type of interacting species and in the degree of ontogenetic niche shifts exhibited by their individuals. They also demonstrate how insights into the effects of maturation and reproduction limitation on community equilibrium carry over to the dynamics of size-structured populations and give rise to different types of cohort-driven cycles.

Featuring numerous examples and tests of modeling predictions, this book provides a pioneering and extensive theoretical and empirical treatment of the ecology of ontogenetic growth and development in organisms, emphasizing the importance of an individual-based perspective for understanding population and community dynamics.

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Resolving Ecosystem Complexity (MPB-47)

Oswald J. Schmitz

An ecosystem's complexity develops from the vast numbers of species interacting in ecological communities. The nature of these interactions, in turn, depends on environmental context. How do these components together influence an ecosystem's behavior as a whole? Can ecologists resolve an ecosystem's complexity in order to predict its response to disturbances? Resolving Ecosystem Complexity develops a framework for anticipating the ways environmental context determines the functioning of ecosystems.

Oswald Schmitz addresses the critical questions of contemporary ecology: How should an ecosystem be conceptualized to blend its biotic and biophysical components? How should evolutionary ecological principles be used to derive an operational understanding of complex, adaptive ecosystems? How should the relationship between the functional biotic diversity of ecosystems and their properties be understood? Schmitz begins with the universal concept that ecosystems are comprised of species that consume resources and which are then resources for other consumers. From this, he deduces a fundamental rule or evolutionary ecological mechanism for explaining context dependency: individuals within a species trade off foraging gains against the risk of being consumed by predators. Through empirical examples, Schmitz illustrates how species use evolutionary ecological strategies to negotiate a predator-eat-predator world, and he suggests that the implications of species trade-offs are critical to making ecology a predictive science.

Bridging the traditional divides between individuals, populations, and communities in ecology, Resolving Ecosystem Complexity builds a systematic foundation for thinking about natural systems.

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Scale, Heterogeneity, and the Structure and Diversity of Ecological Communities

Mark E. Ritchie

Understanding and predicting species diversity in ecological communities is one of the great challenges in community ecology. Popular recent theory contends that the traits of species are "neutral" or unimportant to coexistence, yet abundant experimental evidence suggests that multiple species are able to coexist on the same limiting resource precisely because they differ in key traits, such as body size, diet, and resource demand. This book presents a new theory of coexistence that incorporates two important aspects of biodiversity in nature--scale and spatial variation in the supply of limiting resources.

Introducing an innovative model that uses fractal geometry to describe the complex physical structure of nature, Mark Ritchie shows how species traits, particularly body size, lead to spatial patterns of resource use that allow species to coexist. He explains how this criterion for coexistence can be converted into a "rule" for how many species can be "packed" into an environment given the supply of resources and their spatial variability. He then demonstrates how this rule can be used to predict a range of patterns in ecological communities, such as body-size distributions, species-abundance distributions, and species-area relations. Ritchie illustrates how the predictions closely match data from many real communities, including those of mammalian herbivores, grasshoppers, dung beetles, and birds.

This book offers a compelling alternative to "neutral" theory in community ecology, one that helps us better understand patterns of biodiversity across the Earth.

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Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems. (MPB-42)

Ricard V. Solé

Can physics be an appropriate framework for the understanding of ecological science? Most ecologists would probably agree that there is little relation between the complexity of natural ecosystems and the simplicity of any example derived from Newtonian physics. Though ecologists have long been interested in concepts originally developed by statistical physicists and later applied to explain everything from why stock markets crash to why rivers develop particular branching patterns, applying such concepts to ecosystems has remained a challenge.

Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems is the first book to clearly synthesize what we have learned about the usefulness of tools from statistical physics in ecology. Ricard Solé and Jordi Bascompte provide a comprehensive introduction to complex systems theory, and ask: do universal laws shape the structure of ecosystems, at least at some scales? They offer the most compelling array of theoretical evidence to date of the potential of nonlinear ecological interactions to generate nonrandom, self-organized patterns at all levels.

Tackling classic ecological questions--from population dynamics to biodiversity to macroevolution--the book's novel presentation of theories and data shows the power of statistical physics and complexity in ecology. Self-Organization in Complex Ecosystems will be a staple resource for years to come for ecologists interested in complex systems theory as well as mathematicians and physicists interested in ecology.

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Sex Allocation

Stuart West

Recent decades have witnessed an explosion of theoretical and empirical studies of sex allocation, transforming how we understand the allocation of resources to male and female reproduction in vertebrates, invertebrates, protozoa, and plants. In this landmark book, Stuart West synthesizes the vast literature on sex allocation, providing the conceptual framework the field has been lacking and demonstrating how sex-allocation studies can shed light on broader questions in evolutionary and behavioral biology.

West clarifies fundamental misconceptions in the application of theory to empirical data. He examines the field's successes and failures, and describes the research areas where much important work is yet to be done. West reveals how a shared underlying theoretical framework unites findings of sex-ratio variation across a huge range of life forms, from malarial parasites and hermaphroditic worms to sex-changing fish and mammals. He shows how research on sex allocation has been central to many critical questions and controversies in evolutionary and behavioral biology, and he argues that sex-allocation research serves as a key testing ground for different theoretical approaches and can help resolve debates about social evolution, parent-offspring conflict, genomic conflict, and levels of selection.

Certain to become the defining book on the subject for the next generation of researchers, Sex Allocation explains why the study of sex allocation provides an ideal model system for advancing our understanding of the constraints on adaptation among all living things in the natural world.

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The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography (MPB-32)

Stephen P. Hubbell

Despite its supreme importance and the threat of its global crash, biodiversity remains poorly understood both empirically and theoretically. This ambitious book presents a new, general neutral theory to explain the origin, maintenance, and loss of biodiversity in a biogeographic context.

Until now biogeography (the study of the geographic distribution of species) and biodiversity (the study of species richness and relative species abundance) have had largely disjunct intellectual histories. In this book, Stephen Hubbell develops a formal mathematical theory that unifies these two fields. When a speciation process is incorporated into Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson's now classical theory of island biogeography, the generalized theory predicts the existence of a universal, dimensionless biodiversity number. In the theory, this fundamental biodiversity number, together with the migration or dispersal rate, completely determines the steady-state distribution of species richness and relative species abundance on local to large geographic spatial scales and short-term to evolutionary time scales.

Although neutral, Hubbell's theory is nevertheless able to generate many nonobvious, testable, and remarkably accurate quantitative predictions about biodiversity and biogeography. In many ways Hubbell's theory is the ecological analog to the neutral theory of genetic drift in genetics. The unified neutral theory of biogeography and biodiversity should stimulate research in new theoretical and empirical directions by ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and biogeographers.

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