Top 2015 Academic Ecology Books

These are my top 5 academic ecology books for 2015. Personal reviews available on request!

See the rest of this year’s book recommendations here!

Epigenetics can have a significant impact on human health and disease susceptibility. Over the past few years, significant progress has occurred in this rapidly advancing field, and much key research has been published. This book has gathered together pioneers in the field of epigenetics to produce thought-provoking discussions on classic aspects of epigenetics and on the newer emerging areas. It includes topics on the impact of metabolism on the epigenome, how our actions may impact the health of our offspring several generations removed, and how exposure to environmental toxicants can have long-lasting effects on our epigenome with devastating consequences. This up-to-date volume is a major resource essential for those working in the field and is recommended reading for anyone new to this fascinating and fast-moving area of research.


This novel book addresses key approaches and issues that tend to be overlooked in other books such as missing/censored data, correlation structure of data, heterogeneous data, and complex causal relationships. These issues characterize a large proportion of ecological data, but most ecologists’ training in traditional statistics simply does not provide them with adequate preparation to handle the associated challenges. Uniquely, Ecological Statistics highlights the underlying links among many statistical approaches that attempt to tackle these issues. In particular, it gives readers an introduction to approaches to inference, likelihoods, generalized linear (mixed) models, spatially or phylogenetically-structured data, and data synthesis, with a strong emphasis on conceptual understanding and subsequent application to data analysis.


Travel from island to island and the species change. Travel along any gradient—up a mountain, from forest into desert, from low tide to high tide on a shoreline —and again the species change, sometimes abruptly. What explains the patterns of these distributions? Some patterns might be as random as a coin toss. But as with a coin toss, can ecologists differentiate associations caused by a multiplicity of complex, idiosyncratic factors from those structured by some unidentified but simple mechanisms? Can simple mechanisms that structure communities be inferred from observations of which species associations naturally occur? For decades, community ecologists have debated about whether the patterns are random or show the geographically pervasive effect of competition between species. Bringing this vigorous debate up to date, this book undertakes the identification and interpretation of nature’s large-scale patterns of species co-occurrence to offer insight into how nature truly works.


The first edition of Toward a Unified Ecology was ahead of its time. For the second edition, the authors present a new synthesis of their core ideas on evaluating communities, organisms, populations, biomes, models, and management. The book now places greater emphasis on post-normal critiques, cognizant of ever-present observer values in the system. The problem it addresses is how to work holistically on complex things that cannot be defined, and this book continues to build an approach to the problem of scaling in ecosystems. Provoked by complexity theory, the authors add a whole new chapter on the central role of narrative in science and how models improve them. The book takes data and modeling seriously, with a sophisticated philosophy of science.


The earth’s subsurface contains abundant and active microbial biomass, living in water, occupying pore space, and colonizing mineral and rock surfaces. Caves are one type of subsurface habitat, being natural, solutionally – or collapse – enlarged openings in rock. Within the past 30 years, there has been an increase in the number of microbiology studies from cave environments to understand cave ecology, cave geology, and even the origins of life. By emphasizing the microbial life of caves, and the ecological processes and geological consequences attributed to microbes, this book provides the first authoritative and comprehensive account of the microbial life of caves for students, professionals, and general readers.


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