Thomas, Peter Trees: Their Natural History

ISBN 13: 9780521459631

Trees: Their Natural History

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9780521459631: Trees: Their Natural History
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Trees are familiar components of many landscapes, vital to the healthy functioning of the global ecosystem and unparalled in the range of materials which they provide for human use. Yet how much do we really understand about how they work? This 2000 book provides a comprehensive introduction to the natural history of trees, presenting information on all aspects of tree biology and ecology in an easy to read and concise text. Fascinating insights into the workings of these everyday plants are uncovered throughout the book, with questions such as how are trees designed, how do they grow and reproduce, and why do they eventually die tackled in an illuminating way. Written for a non-technical audience, the book is nonetheless rigorous in its treatment and will therefore provide a valuable source of reference for beginning students as well as those with a less formal interest in this fascinating group of plants.

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Review:

Trees are so much part of our landscape that they are often taken for granted. Only a few hundred years ago woods and forests were more vital elements in every day life as they provided food, fuel and timber for building and making everything from beds to bows and arrows. Our ancestors knew their trees, information most of us have now lost.

Peter Thomas, in Trees: Their Natural History restores this lost understanding and provides a much needed general introduction to how trees as living organisms (work, grow, reproduce and die) for the non-professional reader. Peter Thomas is a lecturer and researcher in environmental science at Keele University and reminds us that trees, like animals, face a constant battle in competing for light, water and minerals. In this natural history, he tells many fascinating stories about how trees cope with the diversity of global environments and the problems of being large and long-lived.

Botanically, trees are not just one particular group of plants but a form of growth which has been adopted by many different groups of plants over the last 380 million years and many of them are now extinct. Today most trees are either conifers and related ancient groups such as theGinkgo or flowering plants. There are also a few surviving tree ferns which originally formed some of first forests on Earth and whose remains contributed to our coal deposits. The tree form of the flowering plants is the most varied ranging from the dwarf Arctic willow which barely grows above the ground to tropical palms and the strange grass trees of Australia.

Although slightly textbook-like in appearance with tables and diagrams, there are also plenty of black and white photos, useful lists of references for further reading and finally an index--a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in trees. --Douglas Palmer

Review:

'Never less than interesting, it is written in non-technical language that is consistently illuminating ...' New Scientist

' ... an excellent book ... The author has used an easy-to-read style with occasional quirky asides to keep the readers' attention ... The text is well-supported by line drawings, boxes and some black-and-white photographs. References are used only sparingly, but there is a good further reading list at the end of the chapter.' Keith Kirby, Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

'Peter Thomas illustrates his arguments well with clear line drawings and photographs ... overall it is a valuable, enjoyable addition to the literature.' Jeffrey Burley, Oxford Forestry Institute

'... a thoroughly readable book, well produced, representing good value for money, and I would happily recommend it.' Jim McAdam, Biologist

'Peter Thomas illustrates his arguments well with clear line drawings and photographs ... overall it is a valuable, enjoyable addition to the literature.' Jeffrey Burley, Thesis

' ... overall it is a valuable, enjoyable addition to the literature.' Jeffrey Burley, The Times Higher Education Supplement

' ... a wealth of information for the general reader ... without becoming an intimidating ecological text.' Mineral Planning

'So, if trees have always fascinated you and if you have any trees in your guardianship, read this book. Even a quick skimming of its pages will enlighten you and make you curious to know more.' Sue Roe, Gardens Illustrated

'... this book was a pleasure to read. I will order it for my forest ecology class.' David Greene, The Quarterly Review of Biology

'This is just the book I've been waiting for! Peter Thomas has written a readable, interesting, but essentially factual book ... This is all proper scientific material, documents with references and further reading, but the style is highly readable.' International Tree Foundation

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