Penn State

Eric K. Zenner - associate professor of silviculture, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe

Author: Heinz H. Ellenberg

Book Description:

Written by a biologist and ecologist who viewed ecological systems through holistic means, this book presents an understanding of the actual distribution of vegetation throughout western Europe. This reflects an important step from theoretical ecology, which had previously focused on understanding the fundamental niche, to applied ecology by describing the realized niche—under what conditions vegetation actually occurs on the landscape. As such, it contains an absolute wealth of natural history observations placed within a conceptual framework provided by ecological theory. Further, this work reflect one of the first large-scale efforts to classify and map vegetation, which is fundamental to monitoring temporal change and determining experimentally the impacts of disturbance. Having thus laid the foundation, the author and other researchers were then able to subsequently contrast disturbed and undisturbed communities and begin to recognize the mechanisms responsible for compositional change. What was pioneering work in the first half of the 20th century in Europe remains an important goal in the first half of the 21st century in North America; whereas theory has continued to evolve, the foundational natural history knowledge in this region of the world lags behind. Having been exposed to this book has greatly influenced my outlook on the relationship between humans and nature.

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