Marsh Ecology Book of the Year Award

This award aims to recognise the contribution authors make to ecology.

Books can have a major impact in ecology, but academic book publishing brings relatively little financial reward to authors. The Award acknowledges the important role that books have on ecology and its development. It is awarded to the book published in the last two years that has had the greatest influence on ecology or its application.

Unfortunately, publishers cannot submit nominations for this award.

Pictured above: Professor Brian Moss, winner of the 2013 Marsh Ecology Book of the Year Award

Trees, by Peter Thomas  2022

This book has been described as ‘a long-awaited volume in the New Naturalist series examining the trees of Britain.’ As the blurb reads: 

Trees are immensely valuable. They give shape to our lives with wood, the material that makes our homes, our books, our belongings; they nourish us with the air we breathe and the fruits we eat; and they sustain us, with their shade and the comfort of their presence. They are also fascinating – they are the biggest and oldest living organisms on the planet and are essential components of many of the landscapes of Britain. Trees have been vital in determining the ecology of our planet as well as the development of human cultures and communities, yet how much do we really understand about them? 

How do trees live? How do they fit into their environments? Why are they so important to ecosystems on earth, and to us? And what does the future hold for trees? Can they solve the problems of climate change by absorbing enough carbon dioxide, and would we run out of oxygen if all the world’s trees disappeared? Do trees really talk to each other? There is much to learn about these silent giants. 

In this book, ecologist Peter Thomas explores all these questions and many more, delving into the often hidden life of trees, using examples from around the world, from common trees to the unusual and bizarre. The book is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of tree biology and ecology presents the latest scientific and botanical discoveries and explores the wonders and mysteries of trees. 

Previous Winners

Uplands and Birds, Author: Ian Newton

Uplands and Birds

Author: Ian Newton

Published by: Collins New Naturalist Library

Publication Date: 09/07/2020

Ian Newton is an ornithologist and applied scientist, and a leading expert on bird ecology and biogeography, who specialises in finches, waterfowl and birds of prey, especially the sparrowhawk. Ian graduated from Bristol University and received his doctorate at Oxford, followed by him joining the Natural Environment Research Council in 1967. Here he initially studying population ecology of geese and finches, followed by the impact of pesticides on birds of prey. He has written three previous New Naturalist volumes: Finches (1972), Bird Migration (2010) and Bird Populations (2013).

This book focuses on the uplands of Britain, which are unique landscapes created by grazing animals, primarily livestock. The soils and blanket bogs of the uplands are also the largest stores of carbon in the UK, and 70% of the country’s drinking water comes from the uplands. It’s a significant region to the multitudes of bird species that hunt, forage, and nest there.

Kimberly A. With

Essentials of Landscape Ecology (July 2019) – by Kimberly A. With, Oxford University Press

The Author Kimberly A. With is a Professor in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University. She is a two-time recipient of the award for Outstanding Paper in Landscape Ecology and has been recognized as a Distinguished Landscape Ecologist, the most prestigious honour bestowed by the U.S. Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE), for her contributions to the field.

The book focuses on transformed landscapes worldwide on a scale that exceeds the largest natural forces and the interactions between natural and anthropogenic landscapes and ecological processes. It includes a variety of ecosystems and the way they function, alongside the sustainable management of their natural resources and services society depends on and presents theories, methods, and application of landscape ecology.

Climate Change and British Wildlife – Trevor Beebee

The Author Trevor Beebee is Emeritus Professor of Evolution, Behaviour and Environment at the University of Sussex, Trustee of the Herpetological Conservation and Amphibian Conservation Research Trusts, and President of the British Herpetological Society. He is also author of the Amphibians and Reptiles Naturalists’ Handbook and co-author of the Amphibian Habitat Management Handbook.

The book covers plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, fungi, lichens and microbes as well as communities and individual ecosystems. Trevor Beebee takes advantage of our long history of wildlife monitoring to examine the effects that climate change has played so far on British species and their ecosystems. He also considers what the future may hold for them in a constantly warming environment.

The blurb of the book reads:

‘There is no escaping the fact that the British climate is changing, and our wildlife is changing with it. In this remarkable account, Trevor Beebee examines the story so far for our plant, fungi and animal species. Warmer and wetter winters, combined with longer summers, have worked to the advantage of plants such as the rare Lady Orchid, and a whole range of insects. The UK is also hosting new arrivals that come in on the wing. But there is adversity, too. Alpine plants and seabirds particularly Kittiwakes – are suffering declines as our countryside warms. Given the evidence so far, can we predict what the future holds for our British ecosystems?’

Principles of Thermal Ecology: temperature, energy and life – Andrew Clarke

Temperature affects everything. It influences all aspects of the physical environment and governs any process that involves a flow of energy, setting boundaries on what an organism can or cannot do. This book reveals the key principles behind the complex relationship between organisms and temperature – the science of thermal ecology. It provides a rigorous framework for understanding the flow of energy in and out of the organism, before describing the influence of temperature on what organisms can do and how fast they can do it.

Andrew Clarke retired from the British Antarctic Survey in 2009 after 40 years as a polar ecologist. His scientific work was divided roughly equally between the ecology and physiology of marine invertebrates, biological oceanography, and the evolutionary history and biological diversity of the Antarctic marine fauna. The link between these three seemingly disparate topics is the relationship between organisms and temperature, hence the production of this book.

Mammal Societies - Professor Tim Clutton-Brock

Mammal Societies aims to integrate our understanding of mammalian societies into a novel synthesis that is relevant to behavioural ecologists, ecologists, and anthropologists. The book shows how the distribution of resources and the foraging strategies of individuals affect the size of groups; how they interact with contrasts in reproductive behaviour and contrasts in breeding systems to affect patterns of kinship; and how contrasts in kinship affect social relationships, competitive interactions and cooperation. It explores both evolutionary causes of different traits and their ecological consequences; and it integrates research on different groups of mammals with research on primates and humans and attempts to put research on human societies into a broader perspective.

Mutualistic Networks - Pedro Jordano and Jordi Bascompte

Mutualistic Networks is a study on the interactions between plants and animals and how these have played a paramount role in shaping biodiversity. It integrates different approaches, from the statistical description of network structures to the development of new analytical frameworks.

The book offers a new perspective on the study and synthesis of this growing area of interest for ecologists and evolutionary biologists, and makes a case for why mutualisms and their complex networks should be studied widely. It is believed that the book will serve as the standard reference for all future work on mutualistic interactions in biological communities.

Jordi Bascompte is Professor of Ecology at the University of Zurich and the co-author of Self-Organisation in Complex Ecosystems. Pedro Jordano is a Professor at the Spanish Research Council and an honorary professor at the University of Sevilla.



Rivers – Nigel Holmes and Paul Raven

Rivers examines the varied ecosystems of rivers, the changes that have taken place to British rivers and the range of creatures that live in, around and above the water.

Paul Raven has more than 30 years’ experience in freshwater ecological research and its application for environmental protection and nature conservation in Britain and Europe, particularly studying the links between fluvial geomorphology and river ecology. He was appointed Head of Conservation, and subsequently Head of Conservation and Ecology at the Environment Agency from 1996 to 2011.

Nigel Holmes was a freelance conservationist at the forefront of efforts to restore degraded rivers to a more natural state, both for the benefit of wildlife and to prevent flooding. He also provided a scientific classification of rivers that is used in Britain and across Europe. Sadly, Nigel Holmes passed away two months after the publication of Rivers in 2014, but his widow Linda was at the presentation to accept his award.

Bird Populations – Professor Ian Newton

Bird Populations focuses on issues such as population regulation, food supplies, nest sites, weather climate and the effects of pesticides and other pollutants.

Ian Newton was Senior Ornithologist at Natural Environment Research Council as well as holding a number of influential board positions in environmental organisations, including Chairman of the British Trust for Ornithology. Bird Populations is Ian Newton’s ninth scientific work to be published.

Liberation Ecology: the reconciliation of natural and human cultures – Professor Brian Moss

Liberation Ecology: the reconciliation of natural and human cultures reflects one of Brian Moss’ biggest passions – to make ecological thinking accessible to everyone. Brian uses everything but scientific jargon to get his message across, using music, the arts, literature and religion for inspiration.

Emeritus Professor Brian Moss has been one of the most influential freshwater ecologists in Europe during the past three decades and the world’s leading scientist on shallow-lake ecology. As a teacher, he has been inspirational not only to his students and the very many fellow professionals who have come under his influence, but also to a much wider audience through his writing and public lectures.

A Resource Based Habitat View for Conservation: Butterflies in the British Landscape – Dr Roger Dennis

Butterflies in the British Landscape introduces a novel approach to the understanding of habitats based on resources and conditions requires by organisms and their access to them. Experts on the field have commended Roger Dennis’ work and have highlighted the importance of his findings.

Dr Roger Dennis is based at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford. He is one of the UK’s leading butterfly ecologists with an international reputation. He has published over 100 academic papers and four books on an extensive range of research topics relating to the ecology, behaviour and biogeography of British and European butterflies.

Plant Microevolution and Conservation in Human-Influenced Ecosystems – Dr David Briggs

Plant Microevolution and Conservation in Human-Influenced Ecosystems is both an excellent review of decades of wide-ranging research at the interface of plant evolution, conservation and climate change, and is also a thoroughly enjoyable read. It dispels myths, provides detailed insights into both established and more novel case studies, as well as providing a balanced and thoughtful weighing up of the virtues and shortcomings of botanic gardens.

David Briggs is a British-born geographer, environmental scientist, writer and poet.

Thermal Adaptation: A Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis – Michael J Angilletta Jr.

Thermal Adaptation: A Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis fills the long-existent and problematic gap between theory and empirical studies in the science of thermal adaptation and its ecological implementations. At a time when integrated understanding of the response of organisms to their changing environment is pressing, the book helps enormously in addressing that need. In doing so, it is likely to encourage a range of new work on the ecological importance of thermal adaption.

Michael J Angiletta Jr. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, having completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.

Understanding Flowers and Flowering – Professor Beverley Glover

Understanding Flowers and Flowering explores the thesis that to fully understand plant development, it is necessary to understand why it is advantageous for different flowers to look like that do. The book first considers the evolution of flowers and the history of research into their development, followed by a detailed description of the processes which lead to flower production in model plants. The book then examines how flowers differ in shape, structure and colour, and how these differences are generated, before finally assessing the role of these various aspects of floral biology in attracting pollinators and ensuring successful reproduction.

Beverley is the Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and her main area of work is the evolution and development of floral features which attract pollinating animals.

Fundamental Processes in Ecology: An Earth Systems Approach – Dr David Wilkinson

Fundamental Processes in Ecology presents a way to study ecosystems that is not yet available in ecology textbooks but is resonant with current thinking in the emerging fields of geobiology and Earth System Science. It provides an alternative, process-based classification of ecology and proposes a truly planetary view of ecological science.

David Wilkinson is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences. His theoretical work concentrates on areas of evolutionary ecology, biogeography and the Earth System.

The Biology of Soil: a Community and Ecosystems Approach – Professor Richard Bardgett

The Biology of Soil provides a comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of what is known about soil biodiversity and the factors that regulate its distribution, as well as exploring the functional significance of below-ground biodiversity for ecosystem form and function. It provides an introduction to the biology of soil, and it also discussed the most recent developments in this progressive field of ecology.

Richard Bardgett has wide experience in soil and terrestrial ecology, and is a Professor of Ecology at the University of Manchester. His research is broadly concerned with understanding the role of interactions between plant and soil communities in regulating the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems, and their response to global changes.

Nutriment Cycling and Limitation: Hawaii as a model system – Peter Vitousek

Nutriment Cycling and Limitation builds on over twenty years of research in Hawaii to evaluate the controls and consequences of variation in nutrient availability and limitation and how this shapes ecosystems. The book integrates research from geochemistry, pedology, atmospheric chemistry, ecophysiology, ecophysiology and ecology to evaluate the connections between plant nutrient use efficiency, nutrient cycling and limitation within ecosystems.

Peter Vitousek is a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. His research focuses on ecosystems, including understanding the processes that maintain soil fertility and plant productivity in tropical forests, evaluating interactions between ecosystems and societies in the Pacific, and using the Hawaiian Islands as a model system to understand how the world works.