To meet its challenges, ecology draws inspiration from economics, chemistry, physics, and atmospheric sciences, while remaining firmly grounded in the natural history of organisms. But professional scientists are not the only ones who must struggle with ecological questions and think along interdisciplinary linesóafter all, environmental debates commonly find their way into courtrooms, legislative bodies, and the voting booth. The task of nurturing our biosphere demands that we all have some familiarity with ecology, if only so that we can distinguish false prophets of ecological doom from those justified calls to political action in the service of our environment. The last century was marked by the industrial and computer revolutions; the next century will likely see the environmental revolution. We need sound, yet provocative, informationósuch as that developed by the contributors to this volumeóas well as information that contributes to a basic understanding of ecology as well as specific environmental crises.
Exploring Ecology and Its Applications is not a comprehensive textbook. Instead, it is a collection of articles from American Scientist, in which leading researchers explain their personal approaches and points of view regarding ecological problem-solving. Too often, textbooks homogenize science into a bland soup of principles and examples, as though all participants in a field agreed upon one common pathway to truth. Such is never the case in science, and it is even less the case in ecology than in most other sciences. Ecology is a fractious field, with approaches ranging from painstaking observations of organisms in their natural environment, to clever manipulations of population densities in small experimental ponds, to computerized interpretation of satellite images. Designed to provide vivid supplementary readings for ecology or environmental science courses, this text exposes students to the many different ways of doing ecology by encompassing the major questions that ecologists are currently tackling. Indeed, for majors, non-majors, and professionals alike, Exploring Ecology and Its Applications introduces a richly rewarding literature....Continua