Green Equilibrium: The Vital Balance of Humans and Nature

Author(s): Christopher Wills


In Green Equilibrium, Christopher Wills explains the rules by which ecosystems maintain a diversity of interdependent species, in particular the balance of predators and prey. Wills is both an eminent academic and a hugely experienced field-biologist. In presenting the concept of 'green equilibrium', he draws on a fascinating range of examples, including coral reefs off the densely populated Philippines, the isolated and densely forested valleys of Papua New Guinea, the changing Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and a Californian ranch being allowed to return to a wild state. In each case he assesses the impact of modern changes and attempts at conservation on these delicately balanced ecosystems. Wills shows how human populations, too, are an integral part of the picture. We now know from genetic evidence that over the course of history, as humans spread out of Africa, populations adapted as a result of environmental conditions. Striking new evidence indicates that some human populations carry genes from past encounters with other hominids (Neanderthals and Denisovans), as well as genetic adaptations to local hazards such as malaria. Wills argues that the most effective approaches to conserving green equilibria come out of evolutionary insights, and from close involvement of the local communities who have lived and adapted to them.

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This inspirational, clearly-written book leads us to fascinating places around the world and instructs us beautifully about the ways in which their natural systems function, challenging us to work towards global sustainability for our common benefit. Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Green Equilibrium is a richly enlightening exploration of the world and our place in it, infused with fresh insight from science and a deep concern about the future of our planet and our species. Carl Zimmer, author of A Planet of Viruses and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution

Christopher Wills is Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences and a member of the Center for Molecular Genetics at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of many books, including The Darwinian Tourist, The Runaway Brain, Plagues, Children of Prometheus, and The Spark of Life (with Jeffrey Bada). He received the Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which honors working scientists who make outstanding contributions to the popularization of science.

Introduction ; 1. How Ecosystems Work ; 2. Maintaining a Green Equilibrium ; 3. Stewardship and its Perils ; 4. The Challenge of Restoration Ecology ; 5. Catastrophes of the Past: How Three Different Ecosystems Have Responded to Existential Threats ; 6. A Blending of Genetic Equilibria: The Origins of Our Species ; 7. Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi ; 8. Introgression and Equilibria in Our Gene Pools ; 9. The Intertwined Histories of Humans and Their Ecosystems ; 10. Learning From Our History ; 11. The Origin of Our Pretty Good Brains ; 12. Genes, Cultures, and Green Equilibria ; L'Envoi ; Notes ; Bibliography

General Fields

  • : 9780199645701
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : March 2013
  • : 234mm X 156mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : very good
  • : 320
  • : Approx 92 black and white illustrations and two 8pp colour plate sections
  • : Christopher Wills