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The Ecology of Place

Contributions of Place-Based Research to Ecological Understanding

The Ecology of Place

Contributions of Place-Based Research to Ecological Understanding

Ecologists can spend a lifetime researching a small patch of the earth, studying the interactions between organisms and the environment, and exploring the roles those interactions play in determining distribution, abundance, and evolutionary change. With so few ecologists and so many systems to study, generalizations are essential. But how do you extrapolate knowledge about a well-studied area and apply it elsewhere?

Through a range of original essays written by eminent ecologists and naturalists, The Ecology of Place explores how place-focused research yields exportable general knowledge as well as practical local knowledge, and how society can facilitate ecological understanding by investing in field sites, place-centered databases, interdisciplinary collaborations, and field-oriented education programs that emphasize natural history. This unique patchwork of case-study narratives, philosophical musings, and historical analyses is tied together with commentaries from editors Ian Billick and Mary Price that develop and synthesize common threads. The result is a unique volume rich with all-too-rare insights into how science is actually done, as told by scientists themselves.

480 pages | 42 halftones, 32 line drawings, 8 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Biological Sciences: Ecology, Natural History, Paleobiology, Geology, and Paleontology

Earth Sciences: General Earth Sciences


“An impressive volume, clearly presented and well integrated to show what has been achieved when ecologists study particular natural environments for long periods. . . . This excellent book is well suited for ecology seminar discussions. Highly recommended.”

F. N. Egerton | Choice

“The book is an exemplar for anyone wanting to bring together a coherent edited volume that is more than the sum of the parts. . . . [T]his excellent book offers a superb collection of reflective essays on the virtues of field-based ecology and scientific natural history. But it when you get fed up poring over journals devoid of the practical challenges and essential joy of being an ecologist.”

Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

“[R]eading this book was extremely enjoyable, thought provoking, and inspirational. For an edited volume it is well integrated, partly by thoughtful and synthetic introductory and concluding chapters and partly by the fact that all contributions are high quality and reference each other where appropriate, which is frequent.”

Eugene W. Schupp, Utah State University | Ecology

The Ecology of Place is an important and novel contribution to the literature that will stimulate much discussion among both ecological theoreticians and empiricists.”

Gordon H. Orians, University of Washington

The Ecology of Place brings together top names from the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology to offer a novel collection that considers how place-based research in ecology contributes to basic scientific understanding. The range of essays, as well as their quality, is noteworthy, and the subjects they cover are timely and important. A celebration of fieldwork and its insights, this book draws worthy attention to what the research of ecologists can tell us about our world.”

Paul R. Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University, and author of Humanity on a Tightrope

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1 The Ecology of Place
Mary V. Price and Ian Billick

1 The Imprint of Place on Ecology and Ecologists
Mary V. Price and Ian Billick

2 The Role of Place in the History of Ecology
Sharon Kingsland

3 Leopold’s Legacy: An Ecology of Place
Donald M. Waller and Susan Flader

2 The Idiosyncrasy of Place: Challenges and Opportunities
Ian Billick and Mary V. Price

4 Ecological Invariance and the Search for Generality in Ecology
H. Ronald Pulliam and Nickolas M. Waser

5 Convergence and Divergence in Mediterranean-Climate Ecosystems: What We Can Learn by Comparing Similar Places 
Philip W. Rundel

6 Ecological Insights into the Causes of an Adaptive Radiation from Long-Term Field Studies of Darwin’s Finches
Peter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant

7 Individual Fitness, Social Behavior, and Population Dynamics of Yellow-Bellied Marmots 
Kenneth B. Armitage

8 The Aleutian Archipelago: Addressing the Functional Importance of Carnivory through Variation in Space and Time
James A. Estes

3 Building an Understanding of Place
Mary V. Price and Ian Billick

9 Understanding the Role of Predation in Open Systems: The Value of Place-Based Research
Barbara L. Peckarsky, J. David Allan, Angus R. McIntosh, and Brad W. Taylor

10 The Ecology of Place in Oak Forests: Progressive Integration of Pairwise Interactions into Webs 
Richard S. Ostfeld and Clive G. Jones

11 A Sense of Place: Tatoosh 
Robert T. Paine, J. Timothy Wootton, and Catherine A. Pfister

12 The Ecology of Place and Natural Resource Management: Examples from Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems
Charles G. Curtin

4 The Interaction between Local and General Understanding
Mary V. Price and Ian Billick

13 Case Studies and Ecological Understanding
Charles J. Krebs

14 Responsive Science: The Interplay of Theory, Observation, and Experiment in Long-Term, Place-Based Research
Svata M. Louda and Leon G. Higley

15 To Know a Tropical Forest: What Mechanisms Maintain High Tree Diversity on Barro Colorado Island, Panama? 
Stephen P. Hubbell

5 Building the Capacity for Place-Based Research
Ian Billick and Mary V. Price 

16 The Model Ecosystem as a Paradigm of Place-Based Research: The Intersection of Geology, Ecology, and Economics at the McLaughlin Reserve 
Paul Aigner and Catherine E. Koehler

17 Managing Place-Based Data: The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory as a Case Study
Ian Billick

18 Local People, Scientific Inquiry, and the Ecology and Conservation of Place in Latin America
Peter Feinsinger, Samara Álvarez, Geovana Carreño, Edmundo Rivera, Rosa Leny Cuéllar, Andrew Noss, Félix Daza, Mireiza Figuera, Edith Lanz, Lainet García, Maikel Cañizares, Aylin Alegre, and Alejandra Roldán

19 Concluding Remarks: Taking Advantage of the Power of Place
Mary V. Price and Ian Billick

List of Contributors

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