Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities

By Prischmann-Voldseth, Deirdre A. | The American Midland Naturalist, October 2012 | Go to article overview

Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities


Prischmann-Voldseth, Deirdre A., The American Midland Naturalist


Review of Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities, Peter W. Price, Robert F. Denno, Micky D. Eubanks, Deborah L. Finke and Ian Kaplan. Cambridge University Press, New York, New York, Hardback, $165.00, Paperback, $85.00, 801 p. ISBN 978-0-521-83488-9, ISBN 978O-521-54260-9. 2011.

Insects evoke strong reactions in people. Whether screaming and squishing a cricket underfoot or gasping with delight at a butterfly's wings, everyone has had memorable interactions with these creatures. But although insects are encountered on a regular basis, few people stop to think about the intricacies of insect behavior and the pivotal role they play in shaping our world. However, it is critically important to understand the fundamentals of how insects function in multiple ecosystems, especially when trying to solve insect-related problems.

Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities details the fascinating ways that insects interact with each other, other life forms, and the environment. It is based on the classic text by Peter W. Price, Insect Ecology (1997) but has benefitted from the expertise of additional authors and evolved into a more comprehensive, streamlined work. Although the basic structure is largely the same, the new version draws heavily from recent literature and has expanded or added sections on emerging topics in science and ecology (e.g., community ecology, effects of anthropogenic disturbance). Therefore, it feels up to date and relevant.

The book's primary strengths are the extent of the information covered, how well the material is organized, and how smoothly readers are guided through the book, with the one exception being the section on where arthropods live (2.6), which seemed choppy. Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities is divided into six main units (Parts), each with one to five chapters. After the introduction (Part I), the units follow a logical order that starts at the level of the individual (Part II: behavioral ecology, including social insects) and progressively expand to larger scales. Part HI covers interspecies interactions (plant and herbivore, lateral interactions, mutualisms, predator and prey, parasite and host), and Part IV deals with population ecology (growth of populations, life-history strategies, population dynamics) . Part V covers food webs and communities (including multitrophic interactions) , and the book concludes with broad ecological patterns (Part VI) covering biodiversity, invasive species, and our changing environment. …

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