Plant Disturbance Ecology - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780120887781, 9780080492957

Plant Disturbance Ecology

1st Edition

The Process and the Response

Authors: Edward Johnson Kiyoko Miyanishi
eBook ISBN: 9780080492957
Hardcover ISBN: 9780120887781
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 13th March 2007
Page Count: 720
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The media coverage of natural disasters (hurricanes, fires, floods, ice storms, etc.) indicates the prevalence of natural disasters in most, if not all, ecosystems. In order for scientists to study, understand, and ultimately predict how these disturbances affect ecosystems, it is necessary for them to know more about the physical processes involved in these disturbances and to learn how to couple these processes to the ecological systems. Essential for all ecologists, forest researchers, and conservation biologists, this book includes chapters on the disturbance processes, how the disturbance causes necrosis or death to individuals, and their effects on population or community processes. In Plant Disturbance Ecology, physical scientists who study disturbances provide an introduction to the physical disturbance processes, while ecologists relate this information to the way the vegetation responds to the disturbances. This reference is also key for all researchers hydrology, geomorphology, and environmental management.

Key Features

  • Includes coverage on six different disturbance processes: Wind, Gravity, Geomorphic, Hydrologic, Combustion, and Biotic
  • Provides a clear explanation of how some of the physical processes of disturbance affect plant ecological processes
  • Offers ecologists an up-to-date understanding of the physical processes and allows them to predict future affects of disturbances
  • Unites two related fields by linking the disturbance processes and ecological responses
  • Presents physical scientists with ideas of how they might usefully apply their knowledge to advance understanding of ecological systems


Professionals, researchers and students interested in vegetation dynamics and plant community ecology. Likely those in biology, botany, and ecology departments.

Table of Contents

Introduction Disturbance and Succession

Wind Processes The turbulent wind in plant and forest canopies; Microbursts and macrobursts: windstorms and blowdowns; Understanding how the interaction of wind and trees results in windthrow, stem breakage and canopy gap formation.

Gravity Processes Meteorological conditions associated with ice storm damage to forests; The effect of icing events on the death and regeneration of North American trees

Geomorphic Processes Disturbance processes and dynamics in coastal dunes; Coastal dune succession and the reality of dune processes; Fluvial geomorphic disturbances and life history traits of riparian tree species

Hydrologic Processes Water level changes in ponds and lakes: the hydrological processes; Vegetation dynamics due to fluctuating water levels in prairie wetlands

Combustion Processes Modeling heating effects; Fire effects on grass populations; Wildfire as a distributed tree population process

Biotic Processes Insect defoliators as periodic disturbances in northern forest ecosystems; Modelling disturbance and recovery of lodgepole forest due to mountain pine beetle outbreaks on landscape scales; Relationship between spruce budworm outbreaks and forest dynamics in eastern North America; Impact of beaver foraging on structure of boreal forests; Beaver, willow shrubs and floods


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© Academic Press 2007
Academic Press
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About the Author

Edward Johnson

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Calgary, Canada

Kiyoko Miyanishi

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada


"The process by which vegetation changes over time has fascinated plant ecologists for at least a century. Early theories emphasized slow, steady change to a hypothetical stable 'climax' community. By the 1970s, ecologists began to realize that disturbance was the rule, not the exception, and a rather radical shift in thinking about vegetation took hold. This multidisciplinary compendium seeks to move what might be called disturbance science beyond descriptive approaches to look at how particular physical disturbances actually cause particular ecological effects. The many authors cover, e.g., the specifics of how forces like wind (turbulence, microbursts, etc.) can physically cause stem breakage in trees. Other modes of disturbance treated here include ice storm damage to forests and trees; dynamic processes that affect coastal dunes; fluvial processes related to riparian tree growth; the effects of water-level changes in ponds and lakes; heating effects on vegetation; fire's effects on grasslands and trees; a variety of insect impacts on different systems; and the impact of beavers on woody vegetation. The level of technical detail in the chapters varies greatly, and a few rely heavily on mathematical formulas. Other chapters are essentially literature reviews. Plant ecologists with a process- or mechanistically oriented approach to understanding vegetation change will appreciate this book. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above." --CHOICE

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