Islands represent unique opportunities to examine human interaction with the natural environment. They capture the human imagination as remote, vulnerable and exotic, yet there is comparatively little understanding of their basic geology, geography, or the impact of island colonization by plants, animals and humans. This detailed study of island environments focuses on nine island groups, including Hawaii, New Zealand and the British Isles, exploring their differing geology, geography, climate and soils, as well as the varying effects of human actions. It illustrates the natural and anthropogenic disturbances common to island groups, all of which face an uncertain future clouded by extinctions of endemic flora and fauna, growing populations of invasive species, and burgeoning resident and tourist populations. Examining the natural and human history of each island group from early settlement onwards, the book provides a critique of the concept of sustainable growth and offers realistic guidelines for future island management.
Lawrence R. Walker is a professor of plant ecology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research focuses on the mechanisms that drive plant succession, particularly primary succession on volcanoes, landslides, glacial moraines, floodplains, dunes, mine tailings and abandoned roads. Much of his work has been conducted on islands. Peter Bellingham is a research scientist and plant ecologist at Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand. He has worked extensively in island ecosystems on consequences of natural disturbances, such as hurricanes and typhoons, earthquakes, floods and landslides, and on the interactions between these natural disturbances and invasions by alien plants and animals.
Preface; 1. Introduction to island environments and cultures; 2. The physical setting; 3. Natural disturbances on islands; 4. The plants and animals of islands; 5. Human dispersal, colonization, and early environmental impacts; 6. Intensifying human impacts on islands; 7. Islands in the modern world: 1950-2000; 8. The future of island ecosystems: remoteness lost; Glossary; Index.