Ecology of tropical plants

Ecology of tropical plants

176 TROPICALPLANTECOLOGY E c o l o g y o f Tropical Plants. M.L. Vickery (Editor) {with a chapter by John Hall). Wiley, Chichester, 1984, 187 pp., pr...

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176 TROPICALPLANTECOLOGY E c o l o g y o f Tropical Plants. M.L. Vickery (Editor) {with a chapter by John

Hall). Wiley, Chichester, 1984, 187 pp., price £12.95, U.S. $24.75, ISBN 0471-90107-5. The ecology of tropical plants is treated in a systematic, and on the whole logical way. The points of criticism given below are comparatively minor, and do not detract from the fact that this is a useful piece of work. The introduction gives the framework of the subject and definitions of the more technical terms. No place is wasted on explaining the different interpretations possible. One strict, logical line is kept. In the following four chapters, the aspects of soil, water, radiation and the atmosphere which are important to plants are explained. The following chapter on vegetation, examining the major vegetation types in the tropics is strictly descriptive. The functional approach is missing, this an omission, as the basic elements are already presented in the preceding chapters. Adhering to this line of thinking, the chapter on interactions between plants should have preceded the one on vegetation. The chapter on plants and animals is seen strictly from the plant point of view (if that is the word). The principles of food selection in herbivores are not even mentioned. The relationship between plants and man is again far more descriptive than functional. Giving attention to man's activities in tapping off resources and acting as a (super-) predator would have been a more ecological approach. John Hall's chapter on investigating the environment appears to have found a good balance between scientific perfectionism and unjustified simplification. This part is about collecting data on the environment, but a marked omission is how to collect information on the plants themselves, given that each plant is part of its neighbour's environment. The book is well-produced, with a clear lay-out and good quality paper. My final conclusion is that it is a good textbook for students at the university undergraduate level. It covers the subject and Hall's contribution offers numerous ideas for practical work. CHRIS GEERLING Department of Nature Conservation and Management P.O. Box 8080 6700 ED Wageningen, The Netherlands