Fragile Dominion: Complexity And The Commons (Stanislaw M. Ulam Lecture Series)

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9780738201115: Fragile Dominion: Complexity And The Commons (Stanislaw M. Ulam Lecture Series)

We all know that our planet is losing its biological diversity at an alarming rate, with frightening implications for our future. But when does an ecosystem hit the breaking point? In this important book, Princeton biologist Simon Levin offers general readers the first look at how the new science of complexity can help to solve our looming ecological crisis. Levin argues that our biosphere is the classic embodiment of what scientists call complex adaptive systems. By exploring how such systems work, we can determine how they might fail: How much loss can an ecosystem bear before it starts to collapse? How resilient are these systems? Do they in fact hover at the edge of chaos? A deeply original work on one of the most pressing issues of our time, Fragile Dominion is a powerful appeal to understand and protect the global commons.”

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About the Author:

Simon Levin is Moffett Professor of Biology at Princeton University and Founding Director of the Princeton Environmental Institute. He is Chairman of the Board of the Beijer Institute and the recipient of many prestigious academic awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the MacArthur Award of the Ecological Society of America. He is the author or editor of more than 25 books on ecology, biology, and biodiversity.

From Publishers Weekly:

Levin, an internationally renowned mathematical ecologist at Princeton University, believes that the earth is under severe environmental assault. His basic premise for coping with this problem is perfectly clear: "to have any hope of dealing with such a complex combination of threats to our survival, we must study the Earth as an integrated physical and biological system." To this end, he provides a lucid introduction to ecological thought, focusing on how ecosystems and ecological communities are structured, with an emphasis on biodiversity. By answering a series of questions ("How has biodiversity arisen? What maintains it? And how fragile is it and the services it provides?"), Levin introduces readers to current ecological theories, summarizing the primary literature in a form accessible even to scientific neophytes. Through these ideas, he discusses how ecosystems achieve stability and how resistant they may or may not be to human interference. Unfortunately, Levin's final chapter on the "eight commandments of environmental management" is too short to be useful. The commandments (reduce uncertainty, expect surprise, maintain heterogeneity, sustain modularity, preserve redundancy, tighten feedback loops, build trust and do unto others...), while interesting, are presented so generally that it is unclear how they can be used to formulate tangible policy. Nevertheless, Levin ably illustrates how the evolving science of complexity can shed light on the earth's ecology.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Simon Levin
Editore: Basic Books (1999)
ISBN 10: 0738201111 ISBN 13: 9780738201115
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Levin, Simon
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