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Elements of Ecology (7th Edition) 7th Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321559579
ISBN-10: 0321559576
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About the Author

Thomas M. Smith, Associate Professor in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, received his Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Tennessee in 1982. The main focus of his research over the past two decades has been to develop an individual based theory of community and ecosystems dynamics. As part of this work he has served on numerous national and international panels that have addressed the potential influence of human activities on the global environment. He has authored over 70 publications based on his research, and he has been recognized as one of the most cited scientists in the field of global change research.


Thomas’s work has taken him to over 70 countries and 6 continents. He has served on the faculty of the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa), Australian National University (Canberra, Australia), as well as the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA, USA). In addition, he has held research scientist positions at both Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN, USA) and the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Laxenburg, Austria). He has over 20 years of experience teaching the science of ecology to both science and non-science majors.


Robert L. Smith holds a Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University. He is Professor Emeritus of Ecology at West Virginia University. He has spent over 30 years teaching Ecology and conducting field research throughout the world. His teaching responsibilities have involved mostly undergraduate courses in general ecology and graduate courses in population ecology and wildlife management. His research has included forest-fire related problems in southern West Virginia, vegetational development and succession on abandoned and reclaimed surface mines, the relation between forest vegetational structure and the forest bird community, and forest habitat assessment and habitat evaluation procedures based on vegetational structure.


Smith has served as a consultant to congressional committees, workshops on environmental education and energy and environmental problems, the National Landmarks program of the U.S. Department of Interior, National Research Council Task Forces on wildlife and fisheries issues and ecological classification systems for implementing environmental quality evaluation procedures.


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Product Details

  • Series: Elements of Ecology
  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 7 edition (September 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321559576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321559579
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.1 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Robert Leo Smith is one of the "Grand Gurus" of ecology textbook writers. I have been reading his textbooks since the early 1970's, most notably his flagship book "Ecology and Field Biology" which has gone through numerous editions, and which have been used in countless college courses throughout America. I have read them, taught with them, studied them, and often refer to them. They contain a huge amount of ecological knowledge, which forms the basis for many other ecologically oriented disciplines, such as forestry, agriculture, wildlife, and environmental science:(legions of natural resource professionals cut their "ecology" teeth with this text). This recent edition of "Elements of Ecology" once again shows the expertise of Robert Leo Smith and his collaborator, Thomas Smith. This iteration contains 29 chapters, divided into eight parts. The parts consist of the physical environment, the organism and its environment, populations, species interactions, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, and ecological biogeography. It definitely requires a college reading level and ability, but I would not hesitate to use it as a reference in high school and AP courses. It is well written, well illustrated, and has very good summaries at the end of each chapter, along with study questions. I know that there are several good textbooks on ecology out there; this one would be my "go to" text for teaching a one semester general ecology course. In addition, there is a useful website that one can access when you buy a book which has a serial number you must input. The website contains useful vocabulary reviews, study questions and practice quizzes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This textbook was required for an ecology class I took over the summer of 2013. While I was not able to finish the entire book, I worked my way through just enough chapters to get a general impression of the quality of the writing and information. The authors are to be commended for doing an excellent job writing in a professional manner. Never did I sense unnecessary digressions or hurried explanations of ecological concepts. On the contrary, the authors patiently explain the complicated intricacies of ecology in such an efficient manner and in such detail that the writing can seem much too formal at times. The text is abounding with detail and while this strategy will no doubt appeal to many, the general principles can be difficult to keep track of when the text becomes overly bogged down with technicality. I have no doubt that the details were of crucial importance for a full, conceptual understanding of ecology, yet I could not help wondering if the same information could not be conveyed in a more pedagogical manner, an aspect where I think Cain's Ecology(another leading ecology textbook) has the advantage. This criticism is insignificant considering how well structured and organized the book is and although it is not perfect, I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
'Elements' is a very good introductory text for ecology students. Where it excels is in the breadth of material it covers and the admirable manner in which the authors lend necessary substance to each topic without bogging it down in ponderous detail. Students get a meaningful introduction to topics as varied as genetics and biogeography. The text is written in a clean, lucid style that neither condescends to students nor assumes that they're more advanced than they should be in their study of the subject matter. All around, this is a great pedagogical resource.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this textbook. The chapters are short and sweet with plenty of background information for people that do not know much about Ecology. The picture quality and quantity is really helpful in understanding also. The front cover is neat which is a plus and it is a paperback not a hardback text so I can take it around wherever I go. Would recommend for introduction ecology course or just to learn about Ecology in general!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read the first 180 pages so far and I really like the book. It does a better job than my professor at organizing the thought and flow of information.
The complaints I have with this book are what some others would consider praise. For example, it is tons of review if you've had many other biology courses. I've taken A&P and Cell biology, so I know more than enough about negative feedback inhibition, which this text covers again. I've had highschool biology so I don't need a review of how plants are autotrophs.
On the other hand, this book has elucidated things that I had no concept or idea about, including specific weather patterns and how the law of conservation of angular momentum causes trade winds. It sounds complicated just reading it here, but the textbook really breaks it down and before your finished with the first unit, you'll be able to sound professional around those in fields of conservation, ecology, and biology.

Highest praise is for how this textbook teaches the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium. I've "re-learned" this concept in General Biology, Organismal biology, genetics, statistics, and now in my Evolutionary Ecology course (so I'm quite familiar with it), but I've never seen it so clearly explained and described--could be that something finally sunk in, but I've known how to manipulate the formula for a while. I think the model used to explain it is what the book does that makes it such a great tool for teaching such a powerful formula.

The book can be dry at times, but I actually look forward to reading it. Not the most interesting textbook I've read, but certainly not the worst.
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