The Earth's biotic resources are experiencing a spreading crisis, which is leading not only to the most rapid loss of species in the past 65 million years, but also causing abrupt changes in the structure and function of natural communities. This disturbance, unfortunately, is the result of man's carelessness in the name of advancing civilization. To identify and begin rectifying this dangerous situation, a group of outstanding environmental scientists has compiled a collection of case studies that illustrate the changes being wrought on the biosphere by the human presence. The first part of the book frames the issue with a series of papers on global change and patterns of impoverishment, with particular emphasis on the effects of air pollution. Successive sections explore the nature of chronic disturbances in a variety of ecosystems including forests, woodlands, grasslands, tundra, and aquatic systems. The book concludes with two chapters that offer possible solutions to this critical situation. By defining the major types of changes in the structure and function of natural communities exposed to chronic disturbance, the authors hope to instill concern and, ultimately, a change of policy.
'...this is an exceptionally competent book, the only one of its sort to achieve a systematized, also systemic, insight into the question of how far and how fast we are reducing the biotic diversity of the Earth.' Nature