April 25, 2008

Book Review - Ecosystem Engineers

Ecosystem Engineers: Plants to Protists
Kim Cuddington, James E. Byers, William G. Wilson, and Alan Hastings
QH 541 .E3197 2007

The concept of ecosystem engineering is one that has generated debate among biologists and ecologists. It is based on the premise that plant and animal species are not passive victims of their environmental surroundings, but may also actively affect and change their physical habitat. This book discusses the history of this theory and puts forward several definitions of "ecosystem engineering." It also offers up several theories and models that have been developed to support this idea. The scientists present numerous case studies and examples where they believe that ecosystem engineering is taking place through the behavior of one or more species. Finally, the book ends with several chapters that address potential implications of ecosystem engineering. This includes both adaptations that have been made due to human effects on habitats as well as interventions that scientists may consider to prevent further changes that are viewed as destructive. This thought-provoking study integrates the work of numerous ecologists and environmental scientists and has implications for environmental management efforts of many types.