Landscape Evolution

Landscape Evolution

Landforms, Ecosystems, and Soils

1st Edition - April 30, 2021

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  • Author: Jonathan Phillips
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128232491
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128217252

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Landscape Evolution: Landforms, Ecosystems and Soils asks us to think holistically, to look for the interactions between the Earth’s component surface systems, to consider how universal laws and historical and geographical contingency work together, and to ponder the implications of nonlinear dynamics in landscapes, ecosystems, and soils. Development, evolution, landforms, topography, soils, ecosystems, and hydrological systems are inextricably intertwined. While empirical studies increasingly incorporate these interactions, theories and conceptual frameworks addressing landforms, soils, and ecosystems are pursued largely independently. This is partly due to different academic disciplines, traditions, and lexicons involved, and partly due to the disparate time scales sometimes encountered. Landscape Evolution explicitly synthesizes and integrates these theories and threads of inquiry, arguing that all are guided by a general principle of efficiency selection. A key theme is that evolutionary trends are probabilistic, emergent outcomes of efficiency selection rather than purported goal functions. This interdisciplinary reference will be useful for academic and research scientists across the Earth sciences.

Key Features

  • Serves as a primary theoretical resource on landscape evolution, Earth surface system development, and environmental responses to climate and land use change
  • Incorporates key ideas on geomorphic, soil, hydrologic, and ecosystem evolution and responses in a single book
  • Includes case studies to provide real-world examples of evolving landscapes


Academic and research scientists across the Earth sciences. Environmental restoration and rehabilitation professionals; natural resource and land management professionals; academia in geography, biology, and environmental science

Table of Contents

  • 1. An integrated approach to landscape evolution
    2. Earth surface systems as supraorganisms
    3. Observing landscape evolution
    4. It depends on the scale: scale contingency in landscape evolution
    5. Historical contingency in landscape evolution
    6. Attractors and goal functions in landscape evolution
    7. Thresholds, tipping points, and instability
    8. Selection and landscape evolution
    9. The perfect landscape
    10. Landscape evolution and environmental change

Product details

  • No. of pages: 356
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2021
  • Published: April 30, 2021
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128232491
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128217252

About the Author

Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips is Professor of Earth Surface Systems and University Research Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Kentucky and an affiliate of the "Blue Cats" research team in the Forest Ecology unit of the Sylva Tarouc Institute, Brno, Czech Republic. He previously held faculty positions at East Carolina, Texas A&M, and Arizona State Universities. Phillips has been recognized with distinguished career awards from both the British Society for Geomorphology (Linton Medal) and the Geomorphology Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (Marcus Award), as well as several other research awards. He is author of more than 200 refereed research publications across the fields of geomorphology, pedology, hydrology, ecology, environmental science, and quantitative geography.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Earth Surface Systems and University Research Professor, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, USA

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