Ecology of Desert Systems - 2nd Edition - ISBN: 9780128150559

Ecology of Desert Systems

2nd Edition

Authors: Walter Whitford Ben Duval
Paperback ISBN: 9780128150559
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 1st September 2019
Page Count: 450
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Ecology of Desert Systems, Second Edition, provides a clear, extensive guide on the complex interactions involved in these areas. The book presents detailed information on how the abiotic environment interacts with the biotic environment to determine the structure and function of desert ecosystems, thus revealing how these interactions drive processes, such as plant growth, animal reproductive success, and the spatial and temporal distribution of vegetation and animals. This second edition provides an important guide for students, researchers who want to know how their work fits in to the overall picture, and anyone involved with environmental management in desert areas.

Key Features

  • Highlights the complexity of the systems involved in a clear, concise way
  • Reviews the most current issues facing researchers in the field, including the spread of alien species due to globalized trade, the impact of industrial mining, and climate change
  • Updated and extended to include information on alien species management, industrial mining impacts, and the current and future role of climate change in desert systems


Researchers (in both academia and industry) dealing with arid land environments and arid ecosystems around the world, upper undergrad and postgrad students, environmental planners and managers, climate change scientists

Table of Contents

1. Conceptual Framework and Paradigms
2. Landforms, Geomorphology, and Vegetation
3. Characterization of Desert Climates
4. Wind and Water Processes
5. Patch-Mosaic Dynamics
6. Adaptations
7. Primary Production
8. Consumers, Consumption, and Secondary Production (including impact of mine site/ extraction processes and globalized trade)
9. Decomposition and Nutrient Cycling
10. Desertification
11. Monitoring and Assessment
12. Climate Change Impacts
13. Desert Ecosystems in the Future


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© Academic Press 2020
Academic Press
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About the Author

Walter Whitford

Professor Walter G. Whitford received his PhD from the University of Rhode Island in Physiolgical-Ecology. He spent the next fifty years working in the Chihuahuan Desert as a faculty member in Biology at New Mexico State University (NMSU) where he was principal investigator in the Desert Biome Program which was part of the International Biological Program. His research focused on field experiments and studies of termites and seed harvesting ants. That program stimulated his commitment to the importance of soil in arid ecosystems and the organisms that are involved in nutrient cycling. He also served as the first principal investigator for the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research Program. As principal investigator, he published more than 150 papers in peer reviewed journals dealing with most aspects of desert ecology. In 1993, he left the university to work as a senior research ecologist with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency with a focus on monitoring and assessing the health of arid ecosystems. After retiring from the EPA he produced the first edition of Ecology of Desert Systems and continued to teach and do research in the Chihuahuan Desert. While a professor, he did research in Israel and Australia, evaluated arid lands research programs in South Africa, and organized a symposium on the Atacama and long-term ecological research in Chile. Before embarking on the 2nd edition of Ecology of Desert Systems, he was author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications.

Affiliations and Expertise

USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, USA

Ben Duval

Dr. Duval is an Assistant Professor of Ecology at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology where he has held that position since 2016. He teaches Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Ecosystem Science. His research focuses on plant-soil-microbial-atmosphere interactions, including how climate change impacts arid land biogeochemical cycles, and sustainable agriculture in drylands. Ben is passionate about training students to work on projects related to desert soil carbon cycling, Rio Grande riparian zone native plant restoration and improving predictive metrics of plant water and nutrient stress via remote sensing. Ben completed his PhD at Northern Arizona University in 2010, with a dissertation on the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on trace metal cycling and nitrogen fixation. Dr. Duval holds a Master’s degree from New Mexico State, where he developed a sincere love of the Chihuahuan Desert through his many hours in the field with Dr. Whitford. His research in New Mexico with Dr. Whitford included soil disturbance by mammals and interactions between desert shrubs and insects. He is an alumnus of The College of Wooster (Biology, class of 2001). His wife Mikell and son (Gustav Falcon) are willing participants in his sojourns into the northern Chihuahuan Desert around Socorro, New Mexico. One of Ben’s long-term goals is to instill in his students (and son) to respect desert systems with the same passion that Dr. Walter G. Whitford graciously passed to him.

Affiliations and Expertise

Assistant Professor, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, USA

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