Chance and Change: Ecology for Conservationists

Front Cover
University of California Press, Jun 21, 1998 - Nature - 209 pages
0 Reviews
The result of a lifetime in the field and in the classroom, Chance and Change challenges many of the tenets of establishment ecology. Charging that most of the environmental movement has ignored or rejected the changes in thinking that have infiltrated ecological theory since the mid 70s, William Drury presents a convincing case that disorder is what makes the natural world work, and that clinging to romantic notions of nature's grand design only saps the strength of the conservation movement. Drury's training in botany, geology, and zoology as well as his life-long devotion to work in the field gave him a depth and range of knowledge that few ecologists possess. This book opens our eyes to a new way of looking at the environment and forces us to think more deeply about nature and our role in it.

Chance and Change is intended for the serious amateur naturalist or professional conservationist. Drury argues that chance and change are the rule, that the future is as unpredictable to other organisms as it is to us, and that natural disturbance is too frequent for equilibrium models to be useful. He stresses the centrality of natural selection in explaining the meaning of biology and insists the book and the laboratory must be checked at all times against the real world. Written in an easy, personal style, Drury's narrative comes alive with the landscape—the salt marshes, dunes, seashores, and forests—that he believed served as the best classroom. His novel approach of correlating landscape evolution with ecological principles offers a welcome corrective to discordance between what we observe in nature and what theory tells us we should see.

What people are saying - Write a review

Chance and change: ecology for conservationists

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Writing for both the amateur naturalist and the professional conservationist, Drury challenges traditional ecological theories with the argument that nature is not the result of a grand design. He ... Read full review


Natural Curiosity
The Seashore
Salt Marshes
Rivers Floodplains and Bogs
Geological Activity and the Response of Vegetation on Upland Slopes
Contrasting Perceptions of the Landscape and Forests of the Appalachians
Secondary Succession
Studies in Evolutionary Biology
Habitats and Competition
Human Ecology and Conservation
Species List Taxonomically Arranged
About the Author

Population Balance Equilibrium and Density Dependence

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 8 - I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill ; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Page 21 - an old and relatively primitive system, isolated from its surroundings. Within it matter circulates, and controls operate to produce an equilibrium comparable with that in a similar area of land. In this microcosm nothing can be fully understood until its relationship to the whole is clearly seen. . . . The lake appears as an organic system, a balance between building up and breaking down in which the struggle for existence and natural selection have produced an equilibrium, a 'community of interest',...

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1998)

William Holland Drury Jr. (1921-1992) was Professor of Biology at the College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine. John G.T. Anderson is Professor of Biology at the College of the Atlantic.

Bibliographic information