Student Review: Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems, and Impacts

February 23, 2012

Authors: Michel J. Kaiser et al.

Edition: Second

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Pages: 528

Price: £32.99

ISBN: 97801992020

At some point in their studies, most biology students will consider pursuing marine biology. This textbook will only strengthen that desire. Its content is engaging and suitable for both neophyte and more advanced biologists, and its straightforward structure and layout make it easy to choose your area of interest.

In fact, the book starts with an outline that is general enough for non-biologists to be able to follow it, but it is not over-simplistic to the point where it detracts from the content.

The authors’ decision to separate the information into types of ecosystem is a pragmatic one. The important points in a chapter are paraphrased in small boxes throughout the text, and the chapter summaries highlight the key facts again. This makes it easier to find the relevant bits of the chapter and get the take-home message. The Further Reading section in every chapter allows readers to expand their knowledge and gives them the freedom to choose the material they find most interesting.

Maths and chemistry are two things that young biologists like to gloss over. This book doesn’t avoid them completely, but explains each equation or process clearly, with more details provided in a box alongside the text. Students who are interested can get the information, but it doesn’t break up the flow of the text in a way that can make it difficult for some people to follow. Some chapters are more text-heavy than others, but figures provide a useful visualisation of the information and break up dense blocks of type.

At the end of the book there is a Weblinks section that will prove to be a helpful resource, as students are more likely to look for further information online rather than in another textbook; this list has the advantage of providing reliable sources.

As well as describing marine ecology’s history and important developments, the book offers “Current focus” boxes throughout. Along with the Impacts section, these make the subject topical to today’s students, and also demonstrate the applicability of different biological techniques and tools.

The way this textbook portrays science as an accessible career is different from many textbooks that simply describe the information without addressing its relevance to young scientists.

Overall, the book provides a strong basis in marine ecology within the context of future work, targeting modern students and allowing readers to expand their interests further by giving them a choice of resources.

Who is it for? Any biologist interested in marine systems.

Presentation: Creative, accessible.

Would you recommend it? Yes, strongly.


Statistics Explained: An Introductory Guide for Life Scientists

Author: Steve McKillup

Edition: Second

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Pages: 418

Price: £26.99

ISBN: 9780521183284

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