Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science

1st Edition

Editors: Kathleen Weathers David Strayer Gene Likens
Paperback ISBN: 9780120887743
eBook ISBN: 9780080916804
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 5th December 2012
Page Count: 326
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Ecosystem science has developed into a major part of contemporary ecology, and it is now applied to diagnose and solve a wide range of important environmental problems. Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science provides a compact and comprehensive introduction to modern ecosystem science. Written by a group of experts, this book covers major concepts of ecosystem science, biogeochemistry, and energetics.

Key Features

  • Addresses, contrasts, and compares both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
  • Combines general lessons, concepts, frameworks, and challenges in highly accessible synthesis chapters
  • Presents firsthand case studies, written by leaders in the field, offering personal insights into how adopting an ecosystem approach led to innovations, new understanding, management changes, and policy solutions


Advanced undergraduate and graduate students who have had a general biology course, but not further training in ecosystems. Researchers and professionals in ecology and environmental sciences.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction to Ecosystem Science

What is an Ecosystem?

What are the Properties of Ecosystems?

Why Do Scientists Study Ecosystems?

How Do Ecosystem Scientists Learn about Ecosystems?

From There to Here: A Short History of the Ecosystem Concept in Theory and Practice


Section II. Ecological Energetics


Units used in Studies of Ecological Energetics

Chapter 2. Primary Production: The Foundation of Ecosystems


Components of Primary Production

Measuring Primary Production

Regulation of Primary Production

Rates and Patterns of Primary Production

Fates of Primary Production

A Tale of Scale



References for Table 2.1

Chapter 3. Secondary Production and Consumer Energetics


Consumer Energetics

Secondary Production

Definition of Secondary Production

Methods to Estimate Secondary Production

Controls and Prediction of Secondary Production

Production of an Individual Species of Consumer

Production of a Guild of Consumers

Production of the Entire Community of Consumers



Chapter 4. Organic Matter Decomposition


Decomposition of Plant-Derived Particulate Matter

Organisms Responsible for Decomposition

Controls on Decomposition

Interactions with Other Element Cycles



Chapter 5. Element Cycling

What is an Element Cycle?

The Importance of Chemical Properties

Move, Stick, and Change: A Simple Framework for Elemental Cycling

What Kinds of Questions are Associated with Element Cycles?

Some Characteristics Important for Understanding an Element’s Role in Ecosystems



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About the Editor

Kathleen Weathers

Affiliations and Expertise

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, USA

David Strayer

Affiliations and Expertise

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, USA

Gene Likens

Affiliations and Expertise

Distinguished Senior Scientist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, USA


“Highly recommended as a textbook, Fundamentals is certain to delight the reader with striking stories on the connection between habitat fragmentation and Lyme disease, and other intriguing examples that leave us marveling at the complexity of ecological interactions and remind us why we choose to work in this field.”--The Journal of Wildlife Management,July 10, 2014.

"Via multiple approaches (e.g., experimental, theoretical, cross-system comparisons), contributors discuss the energetics and biochemical branches of this rapidly evolving science, and present case studies illustrating how ecosystem science can identify and control problems in diverse ecosystems."--Reference & Research Book News, October 2013
"I have been searching for a book like this for my ecosystem ecology class. The tone is right-on-target, the examples are apropos, and it is clear that these chapters are written for students as opposed to researchers, which is a significant plus."--Dr. Robert Hall, University of Wyoming
"I found the chapters in Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science to be well-organized and well-written. Students and teachers alike respond well to them. The level of detail is about right (not too dense), and the subject matter is presented in an interesting and engaging way."--Dr. Clifford Ochs, University of Mississippi
"The book is very readable and engaging, and it communicates both a general understanding of the topics and current state of the knowledge.  The incorporation of both terrestrial and aquatic systems is a great contribution since most ecosystem science textbooks are focused on terrestrial or aquatic systems."--Dr. Mary Arthur, University of Kentucky
"A refreshing approach that includes specific methods, examples and perspectives from both aquatic and terrest