Countless ants transport and deposit seeds and thereby influence the survival, death, and evolution of many plant species. In higher plants, seed dispersal by ants (myrmecochory) has appeared many times independently in different lineages. More than 3000 plant species are known to utilize ant assistance to be planted. Myrmecochory is a very interesting and rather enigmatic form of mutualistic ant-plant associations. This phenomenon is extremely complex, because there are hundreds of ant species connected with hundreds of plant species. This book effectively combines a thorough approach to investigating morphological and physiological adaptations of plants with elegant field experiments on the behaviour of ants. This monograph is a first attempt at collecting information about morphology, ecology and phenology of ants and plants from one ecosystem. The book gives readers a panoramic view of the hidden, poorly-known interrelations not only between pairs of ants and plant species, but also between species communities in the ecosystem. The authors have considered not just one aspect of animal-plant relationships, but have tried to show them in all their complexity. Some aspects of the ant-plant interactions described in the book may be of interest to botanists, others to zoologists or ecologists, but the entire work is an excellent example of the marriage of these biological disciplines.
This book critically examines the idea that the sustainability of agriculture could be improved by mimicking the structure and processes occurring in natural ecosystems. Researchers from around the world present comparative studies of multi-species farming systems, natural ecosystems and conventional agriculture. Case studies from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America examine the implications of increasing the complexity of farming systems on water and nutrient cycling, productivity and resilience. Theoretical issues discussed include the role of biodiversity in agriculture, the trade-off between perenniality and productivity, the choice to integrate or segregate production and conservation in an agricultural landscape, and the social and economic challenges to adopting complex farming systems. One section is devoted to the application of this concept in southern Australia, where 15 million hectares of land are expected to be affected by salinity by the middle of the next century unless there is a significant change in agricultural practice.
Based in extensive research in geology, atmospheric science, and paleontology, this book offers a detailed history of CO2 in the atmosphere, and an understanding of factors that have influenced changes in the past. The text illuminates the role of atmospheric CO2 in the modern carbon cycle and in the evolution of plants and animals, and addresses the future role of atmospheric CO2 and its likely effects on ecosystems.
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