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Trophic Cascades: Predators, Prey, and the Changing Dynamics of Nature 1st Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1597264877
ISBN-10: 1597264873
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Editorial Reviews


"This book is provocative and demands sustained, deep thought on the part of readers. Many bold, large, synthetic ideas are proposed, albeit often tentatively, and the relevant literature is not only from ecology and conservation biology but from archeology, paleobiology, mathematics, and other fields...One should not read Trophic Cascades in search of insights on restoration techniques. Rather, any restoration biologist should read it as a challenging, mind-expanding exercise, inspiring thoughts about why we try to restore, what we try to restore to, what might be feasible, why we have succeeded or failed, and why an ecosystem perspective is absolutely necessary."
(Daniel Simberloff Ecological Restoration)

"... this book is a very valuable source for all students and researchers and for the first time provides an excellent overview of our current knowledge on trophic cascades in different ecosystems."
(Basic and Applied Ecology)

"This book is an excellent, comprehensive resource on trophic cascades... This is a comprehensive book. Its dramatic examples and bold conclusions make for exciting and challenging reading. It is a timely and compelling synthesis of evidence relating to trophic cascades."
(Austral Ecology)

"This book provides a great deal of clarity"
(Natural Areas Journal)

"We recommend this book to instructors, professionals and any others in need of a text that presents varied examples and addresses questions surrounding top-down forcing in aquatic and terrestrial systems."
(Integrative and Comparative Biology)

"The complexities of nature, the importance of keystone predators, and the dynamic nature of populations are clearly described in these well-written, thought-provoking papers, well suited for general audiences."

"In the first comprehensive work on trophic cascades, leading experts in terrestrial, marine, and lake food webs distill decades of evidence and lifetimes of insight to show that large carnivores, as apex predators, exert ubiquitous and powerful effects over nature. This landmark book argues, compellingly, that the ongoing worldwide loss of megacarnivores not only impoverishes Earth's biota, but also undermines life support services needed for thriving human societies."
(Mary E. Power Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley)

"When two or more people sleep on a waterbed, one person rolling over is likely to disturb the others. The ecological world is like a gigantic waterbed in which disturbances ripple through webs, or branching chains of species, with unforeseen effects. Trophic Cascades provides a comprehensive account of what life's waterbed is really like: When a population is changed, introduced, or eradicated, trophic cascades can change the numbers or behavior of even the most ecologically remote species in ways that seem counterintuitive. The authors discuss the conservation significance of trophic cascades on land, in oceans, and in fresh water. This great book will become a classic centerpiece of the ecological literature."
(Jared Diamond Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author)

"Predators everywhere are threatened by human impact, underscoring Aldo Leopold's dictum that intelligent tinkering requires saving all the parts; yet we've failed to appreciate the significant roles of these animals in structuring ecosystems. Terborgh and Estes, both distinguished field biologists, provide a wide-ranging set of scholarly reviews. Trophic Cascades is natural history at its best, outstanding science in the service of conserving the diversity of life on earth."
(Harry W. Greene Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

"This important book focuses attention on a relatively neglected aspect of the Biodiversity Crisis, namely that species higher up in food chains are differentially important, and also differentially at risk. The book's rich array of well-studied examples of consequent 'trophic cascades' of damage to ecosystems and the services they deliver deserves wide attention, with the lessons incorporated in conservation planning. Read this book."
(Professor Lord Robert May Department of Zoology, Oxford University)

"It is the first well-written and comprehensive book about this will certain become a classic in ecological literature."

About the Author

John Terborgh is James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Sciences and codirector of the Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University. He has devoted much of the past 35 years to issues concerning the ecology and conservation of neotropical systems.


After spending most of his career as a research scientist with the US Geological Survey, James A. Estes is currently a faculty member at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he holds a position of professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597264873
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597264877
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sidewalk Forester on June 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
On my bookshelf I have an original edition of Aldo Leopold's 1933 classic Game Management. Now, how I came into possession of this seminal volume in applied ecology might be considered unethical by some. I prefer to think of it as a "rescue effort" conducted to avoid its eventual deterioration in the bowels of a forgotten storage garage. Regardless of the nefarious track by which it found its current home, I value this volume as it represents the moment when a paradigm shift occurred in our understanding of wildlife management and the maintenance of the biological integrity of ecosystems. Trophic Cascades, a collection of essays detailing evidence of the critical importance of apex predators in ecosystem functioning, will be given a home on the same shelf as Game Management. While it may not yet represent a watershed intellectual moment, it is an important contribution that advances our collective understanding.

Trophic Cascades demolishes the entrenched bias that currently exists within the ecological professions favoring the idea of "bottom up" regulation of ecosystems. Bottom up regulation is the idea that the raw productivity of an ecosystem is the ultimate shaper of the system structure. This viewpoint emphasizes that the physical parameters of the environment, coupled with the photosynthetic capacity, are of primary importance in determining what shape an ecosystem takes and that, as you move up the food chain, the impact on the system structure diminishes. I can still remember one of my undergraduate forestry instructors deriding his wildlife biologist colleague with the opinion that animals were just parasites living off "his plants". Academics can be so cruel.

Of course, as in all things ecological, the true story is just a bit more complex.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Shipman on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The papers are clear, interesting, thoughtful and important. A really great book for anyone interested in the functioning of ecosystems.
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I work in an area threatened by pythons, an area that supports the endangered Florida panther. These biologists caused us to wonder... What if it is our marsh rabbits that fertilize our prairie grasses that attract the deer that provide food for the panther? What if the pythons destroy our entire population of marsh rabbits as they nearly have in Everglades National Park? Could the result be a trophic cascade ultimately eliminating our alpha predator, the panther? Could the future of the panther be dependent on marsh bunnies? At last we are asking the right questions rather than arguing bottom up or top down ecology. This book will make you think and reason differently while providing insights into the interconnectivity of the food web. If protecting alpha predators is your avocation, please read this book. It will give you the tools you need to convince others of the catastrophic results associated with removing the alpha predator from an ecosystem.
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By John Anderson on December 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I REALLY wanted to like this book, and actually ordered several un-seen for an advanced seminar with some very bright students. Big mistake. There really is nothing new here (WHY, if TC is such a big deal are we still re-hashing those poor miserable sea otters 50 years later?). Most of the other "examples" presented seemed based on limited data, broad brush speculation, and/or wishful thinking. I kept feeling that I was stuck in a time-warp at about 1972, with ideas of community ecology presented in a non-critical way that didn't really do much to change my opinion or leave me feeling any better informed. The students felt pretty much the same way & we reverted to using primary sources after a while. Sorry. Given the amount of press TCs gets in the conservation literature it deserves more than this.
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