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Plant Microevolution and Conservation in Human-influenced Ecosystems

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  • Date Published: November 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521521543


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About the Authors
  • As human activities are increasingly domesticating the Earth's ecosystems, new selection pressures are acting to produce winners and losers amongst our wildlife. With particular emphasis on plants, Briggs examines the implications of human influences on micro-evolutionary processes in different groups of organisms, including wild, weedy, invasive, feral, and endangered species. Using case studies from around the world, he argues that Darwinian evolution is ongoing. He considers how far it is possible to conserve endangered species and threatened ecosystems through management, and questions the extent to which damaged landscapes and their plant and animal communities can be precisely recreated or restored. Many of Darwin's ideas are highlighted, including his insights into natural selection, speciation, the vulnerability of rare organisms, the impact of invasive species, and the effects of climate change on organisms. An important text for students and researchers of evolution, conservation, climate change and sustainable use of resources.

    • Considers how neo-Darwinian concepts impact on the theory and practice of conservation in the context of climate change, alerting readers to the implications of this novel approach
    • Provides background information on basic elements of genetics, molecular methods, climate change, ecology and population biology, with particular reference to plants, serving as a useful guide for students
    • Case studies from a variety of countries make the book globally relevant
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    • Winner of the British Ecological Society Marsh Book of the Year Award 2011

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a book that successfully offers broad and balanced coverage of Darwinian ideas as they operate today in plant populations. … The book is thought-provoking as advertised; it is also quite humbling.' Plant Science Bulletin

    'David Briggs has produced a resoundingly fascinating overview of the effects of human influences on microevolutionary processes in a wide range of plants and habitats, ranging from weeds to rainforests … This is an important book, which should be devoured by students.' Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521521543
    • length: 618 pages
    • dimensions: 245 x 175 x 30 mm
    • weight: 1.2kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus. 18 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Studying change
    3. Key concepts in plant evolution
    4. The origin and extent of human-influenced habitats
    5. Consequences of human influences on the biosphere
    6. Categories
    7. Investigating microevolution in anthropogenic ecosystems
    8. Plant microevolution in managed grassland ecosystems
    9. Harvesting crops: arable and forestry
    10. Pollution and microevolutionary change
    11. Introduced plants
    12. Endangered species: investigating the extinction processes at the population level
    13. Hybrids and speciation in anthropogenically-influenced ecosystems
    14. Ex situ conservation: within and outside reserves
    15. In situ conservation
    16. Creative conservation through restoration and reintroduction
    17. Reserves in the landscape
    18. Climate change
    19. Microevolution and climate change
    20. The implications of climate change for the theory and practice of conservation
    21. Overview

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Plant Conservation Biology
    • Plant Evolutionary Biology
  • Author

    David Briggs, University of Cambridge
    David Briggs is Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge. He completed his BSc and PhD from Durham University. He has served as Demonstrator in Botany, Botany School, University of Cambridge from 1961–1964; a Lecturer in Botany, University of Glasgow from 1974–2001; and Lecturer in Botany, and Curator of the Herbarium, Department of Plant Sciences at Cambridge University from 1974–2001. He has a lifelong interest in conservation, evolution, genetics and taxonomy. His practical conservation experience includes being a former member of the Wicken Fen Committee of the National Trust and the Milngavie Civic Trust. He was formerly the Chair of Cam Valley Forum - an action group active in the conservation of the Cam, its flood plain and tributaries. He has co-authored Plant Variation and Evolution, also by Cambridge University Press, now in its third edition.


    • Winner of the British Ecological Society Marsh Book of the Year Award 2011

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