Biodiversity is an issue that has been brought to a global audience over the past 25 years. A proper understanding requires mathematical definition and measurement - a necessary, but for some difficult, process.
Methodological books may be so useful at times that they become standard works for many different workers. Measuring Biological Diversity , a rewrite of the earlier Ecological Diversity and its Measurement (1983), is such a text. Substantially revised, the new edition provides a practical, up-to-date handbook of techniques needed in this area. It is a blessing that the book has been rewritten, as it saves us from scouring second-hand bookshops; it was a text that was borrowed from libraries and disappeared.
The introduction of more examples from beyond the Irish dimension provides a much-needed global perspective. Worked examples, invaluable for the non-expert, are still there but not in such great numbers.
Anne Magurran, while providing an invaluable practical handbook, also explains the considerable conceptual difficulties in a very readable style. She has also expanded the section evaluating the available measures of biodiversity. Some typos need eliminating, particularly in formulae used by the mathematically challenged ecologist. But this book is not just recommended to working ecologists - it is essential.
Tony Andrew is lecturer in environmental science, University of Ulster, Coleraine.
Measuring Biological Diversity. First edition
Author - Anne E. Magurran
Publisher - Blackwell
Pages - 256
Price - £32.50
ISBN - 0 632 05633 9