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From Populations to Ecosystems Theoretical Foundations for a New Ecological Synthesis (MPB-46) by Michel Loreau

From Populations to Ecosystems Theoretical Foundations for a New Ecological Synthesis (MPB-46)

Part of the Monographs in Population Biology Series


From Populations to Ecosystems Theoretical Foundations for a New Ecological Synthesis (MPB-46) by Michel Loreau

The major subdisciplines of ecology--population ecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, and evolutionary ecology--have diverged increasingly in recent decades. What is critically needed today is an integrated, real-world approach to ecology that reflects the interdependency of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. From Populations to Ecosystems proposes an innovative theoretical synthesis that will enable us to advance our fundamental understanding of ecological systems and help us to respond to today's emerging global ecological crisis. Michel Loreau begins by explaining how the principles of population dynamics and ecosystem functioning can be merged. He then addresses key issues in the study of biodiversity and ecosystems, such as functional complementarity, food webs, stability and complexity, material cycling, and metacommunities. Loreau describes the most recent theoretical advances that link the properties of individual populations to the aggregate properties of communities, and the properties of functional groups or trophic levels to the functioning of whole ecosystems, placing special emphasis on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Finally, he turns his attention to the controversial issue of the evolution of entire ecosystems and their properties, laying the theoretical foundations for a genuine evolutionary ecosystem ecology. From Populations to Ecosystems points the way to a much-needed synthesis in ecology, one that offers a fuller understanding of ecosystem processes in the natural world.


This reviewer was particularly intrigued by the author's resurrection of the hypothesis that ecosystem complexity and biodiversity supports ecosystem stability, an early romantic notion that turned out to be extremely difficult to demonstrate. He makes a convincing case that this hypothesis may have merit after all. --Choice This is a superbly written book about a very important challenge, namely that the theories of population, community and ecosystem ecology, and of evolution, have developed separately and are not entirely compatible. We need a synthesis of theories of population dynamics and ecosystem function and, faced with a global environmental crisis, we need it badly. This book is an excellent start... I strongly recommend this book to researchers in any branch of ecology. --Alan J. Butler, Austral Ecology I found the text both informative and interesting, and certainly relied upon my background in population ecology and genetics in reviewing this text. In the classroom environment, I could see this text being used in a graduate seminar or perhaps a senior-level honors class in biology, ecology, environmental science, or any of the related disciplines (as a paleontologist, I would certainly recommend it!). --Ryan F. Morgan, Priscum

About the Author

Michel Loreau is professor and Canada Research Chair in theoretical ecology at McGill University.

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Book Info

Publication date

21st July 2010


Michel Loreau

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Princeton University Press


320 pages


Ecological science, the Biosphere



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