Writing: Landscape Ecology and Land Degradation

July was a busy month of writing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t busy writing on this blog and I failed on my New Year’s resolution to make at least one blog post each calendar month this year.

The writing I was doing was for my contribution to a new Landscape Ecology textbook I’m co-authoring with Dr Rob Francis. I’ve written and contributed to individual chapters for edited books previously (the latest highlighted below), but a whole book is a larger challenge. In particular, it’s been a useful experience thinking about how to structure the presentation of the ideas we want to address, which order they come in, what goes in each chapter, and so forth. I’ve mainly been working on the chapters on scale and disturbance, but have also been thinking about material for the heterogeneity and landscape evolution chapters. I’ve been learning a lot, revisiting old notes (including from my undergraduate lectures with Dr Perry!) and reviewing the content of others’ books. It’s been good thinking about some of the broader issues – such as the shifting-mosaic steady state and diversity-disturbance relationships – as it helps to frame more focused questions and work I’ve been thinking about and doing (including my ongoing research using Mediterranean disturbance-succession simulation modelling). When I get the chance (in amongst other things) I’ll post more here about the progression of the book, it’s aims and how it will fit in with teaching we have planned.

Just this week another book I have been involved with has become available online. Patterns of Land Degradation in Drylands: Understanding Self-Organised Ecogeomorphic Systems is the edited volume that summarises and develops the discussions we had at a workshop in Potsdam, Germany in the summer of 2010. The workshop and writing of the book, led by Eva Mueller, John Wainwright, Tony Parsons and Laura Turnbull, examine processes at the interface of ecology and geomorphology that are associated with land degradation in drylands. I contributed to the book chapters on the current state of the art in studying land degradation in drylands, on resilience, self-organization, complexity and pattern formation, and on pattern-process interrelationships and the role of ecogeomorphology. The book is the first on ecogeomorphology of drylands and contains four case studies from drylands in Europe, Africa, Australia and North America that highlight recent advances in ecogeomorphic research. It’s available online now and will be out in print soon.

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