Posts Tagged ‘book’

Honoring Wallace

January 6th, 2024 No comments

Alfred Russel Wallace was a great naturalist who independently discovered natural selection; it is also recognized for his foundational work in evolutionary biogeography. While often overshadowed by Darwin’s popularity, Wallace’s scientific contributions remain significant and influential. James T. Costa’s recent book, ‘Radical by Nature’ (Princeton University Press, 2023), gives full credit and details on Wallace’s outstanding contribution to science.

Wallace laid out the first ideas of the evolution of species in 1855 with his Sarawak Law paper [1] when he was living (traveling) in the Malayan archipelago; the article likely inspired scientists of that time, including Darwin. Later, in 1858, Wallace produced another paper describing the mechanism of natural selection. But before sending it to the publisher, he sent the draft to Darwin for comments. Darwin was working on his book (On the origin of species) and realized that they both had independently arrived at the same conclusion (i.e., evolution by natural selection), so he was worried that Wallace was going to publish it first. Finally, with the help of Lyell & Hooker, they agreed to co-authored the famous paper that first described the mechanism of natural selection (Darwin & Wallace 1858 [2]). This paper, in fact, was not written together but included texts written independently from both to show that they arrived at the same idea (article edited by Lyell & Hooker). Wallace generously accepted Darwin’s priority. In fact, Wallace had started to write a book on the origin of species but put it down after knowing that Darwin was working on a similar book; instead, he dedicated his time to further exploring the Malayan archipelago (from 1854 to 1962). Darwin published his book On the origin of species in 1859, which described in great detail, and popularised the concept of natural selection.

Throughout his life, Wallace was not only a strong supporter of natural selection and Darwin’s ideas but also made significant contributions to other aspects of evolutionary thinking. For example, modern views on evolutionary biogeography, sexual selection, evolutionary mimicry, aposematism, and some aspects of the speciation process (such as allopatry, reinforcement and the Wallace effect) align more closely with Wallace’s ideas than with Darwin’s. Wallace also made numerous contributions to other fields, including anthropology, geology, physical geography, climatology, taxonomy, and systematics. He is often considered the first humanitarian scientist due to his strong support for social justice. He wrote papers on a variety of topics, including land reform, monetary reform, women’s rights, environmental conservation, and critiques of capitalism, militarism, and imperialism. One controversial aspect of his life was his belief in spiritualism, which made him believe that the human mind was not the product of natural selection!!. However, this should not be used to minimize the numerous contributions to evolutionary theory. And honoring Wallace does not need to detract from the recognition of Darwin’s major contributions.

So, Costa’s book is enjoyable and very welcome! 


[1] Wallace A.R. 1855. On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 16, 184–196. [Sarawak Law paper]

[2] Darwin C.R. & Wallace A.R. 1858. On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. Proc. Linnean Soc: Zoo. 3: 45–62. [one of the most important papers in biology!]

Incendios forestales (de vegetación) en México

March 1st, 2016 1 comment

Recientemente se ha publicado un nuevo libro sobre incendios forestales. El libro describe la importancia y los regímenes de incendios en los diferentes ecosistemas de México, así como aspectos sobre historia y manejo del fuego [1]. Es un libro extenso, enciclopédico, con unas 1700 páginas publicadas en 2 volúmenes. El primer volumen (18 capítulos) representa un paseo por la gran variedad de paisajes de México (pinares, bosques de encinos, de oyamel, de galería, pastizales, matorrales, selvas, bosques mesófilos de montaña, sabanas, manglares, palmares, etc.), y en cada uno de ellos se explica el régimen de fuego y las respuesta de las especies y ecosistemas. El segundo volumen (11 capítulos) aborda cuestiones de comportamiento, prevención, y combate del fuego, así como una historia del fuego desde sus inicios (con los primeros ecosistemas terrestres [2]) hasta el uso del fuego en las culturas mesoamericanas y en el México actual. Si hay algo que se encuentra a faltar sería una visión evolutiva; quizá los lectores pueden encontrar esas visión en mi propio libro [3]. Más comentarios sobre el libro y sobre México en [6].

Dante-Rodriguez-Trejo_libroPortadas del volumen 1 (izquierda) y 2 (derecha)

A veces se ha considerado que el concepto de incendios forestales se refiere sólo a los incendios que ocurren en bosques, o incluso a incendios que ocurren en plantaciones forestales. Para evitar ese mal entendido, el autor titula el libro ‘incendios de vegetación‘, ese decir, para enfatizar que el libro se refiere a incendios en cualquier tipo de vegetación. En España, actualmente el término ‘forestal‘ se refiere a cualquier tipo de vegetación natural (también llamado monte), y en ese contexto es cómo a menudo usamos el concepto de incendios forestales [3]. Así es como lo explicaba yo en el prólogo del libro ‘Incendios forestales‘:

Los incendios son fuegos que se propagan sin control humano; cuando ocurren en la naturaleza se llaman incendios forestales. El término forestal está relacionado con una clasificación tradicional de los usos del suelo, donde el uso forestal incluye cualquier zona terrestre que no sea de uso urbano ni agrícola. De este modo, el término incendios forestales se refiere a los fuegos no controlados (sean de origen natural o antrópico) que ocurren en los ecosistemas terrestres, y que se propagan por la vegetación, sea ésta del tipo que sea (bosque, sabana, matorral, pastizal, humedal, turbera, etc.). Por lo tanto, incendios forestales, y por extensión este libro, no sólo hace referencia a bosques, como a veces se ha interpretado, sino a cualquier tipo de ecosistema terrestre” [3]

En inglés también hay una amplia nomenclatura para referirse a los incendios forestales, como por ejemplo, wildfires (principalmente utilizado en Norte América), forest fires (Europa), bush fires (Australia), vegetation fires, landscape fires, etc., todos ellos describen los incendios en cualquier tipo de vegetación.


[1] Rodríguez Trejo, D. A. 2015. Incendios de vegetación. Su ecología, manejo e historia. 2 vol. Ed. Colegio de Postgraduados, Biblioteca Básica de Agricultura, México.

[2] Pausas J.G. & Keeley J.E. 2009. A burning story: The role of fire in the history of life. BioScience 59: 593-601 [doijstor | pdfpost]

[3] Pausas J.G. 2012. Incendios forestales. Una visión desde la ecología. Ed Catarata-CSIC. Madrid. [libro]

[4] He T., Pausas J.G., Belcher C.M., Schwilk D.W., Lamont B.B. 2012. Fire-adapted traits of Pinus arose in the fiery Cretaceous. New Phytol. 194: 751-759. [doi | wiley | pdf | suppl.]

[5] Pausas, J.G. 2015. Evolutionary fire ecology: lessons learned from pines. Trends Plant Sci. 20: 318-324. [doi | sciencedirect | cell | pdf]

[6] Pausas J.G. 2016. Flammable Mexico. Int. J. Wildland Fire [doi | pdf]


New fire books

March 23rd, 2014 No comments

Two new fire books has been recently published! And both have a global and interdisciplinary perspective. The first is edited by Claire Belcher (2013; [1]), and each of the 16 chapters is a scientific article written by different specialists (a total of 25 different authors, many of them from UK institutions); it includes few colour plates. As the publisher says, “the book shows how knowledge of fire phenomena and the nature of combustion of natural fuels can be used to understand modern wildfires, interpret fire events in the geological record and to understand the role of fire in a variety of Earth system processes ”. This book has perhaps little on fire ecology, and it is more focussed on fire history at the geological scale, combustion details and atmospheric impacts; all these topics are important for understanding fires at the global scale. The second book (Scott et al. 2014; [2]) is a full-colour textbook on fire written by five authors (two of them had also participated in the other book). This is probably the first general textbook on fire science ever published, and as such it covers all topics related to fire although with relatively little depth. Thus it provides a summary of the current knowledge on fire at a global scale. In the words of the publisher, it “is designed to provide a synthesis of contemporary thinking; bringing together the most powerful concepts and disciplinary voices to examine, in an international setting, why planetary fire exists, how it works, and why it looks the way it does today”.


[1] Belcher, C.M. (ed) 2013. Fire Phenomena and the Earth System: An Interdisciplinary Guide to Fire Science. Wiley.

[2] Scott, A.C., Bowman, D.M.J.S., Bond, W.J., Pyne, S.J. & Alexander, M.E. 2014. Fire on Earth: An Introduction. Wiley.

New fire book in 2012: link


Incendios forestales: una visión desde la ecología

June 22nd, 2012 4 comments

Nuevo libro: Se acaba de publicar un libro que pretende ser una introducción a la ecología del fuego: Incendios forestales, Editorial Catarata-CSIC.

Para más información ver aquí.

Comprar en:, editorial.csic, AmazonFnacCasaDelLibro, etc. | distribuidores
Precio: 12 euros

New Book: Fire in Mediterranean Ecosystems

March 13th, 2012 No comments

Finally the new fire ecology book by Keeley et al. (2012) has been published:

For more information, table of contents, etc, see here.

Cambridge UP (ukusaau), Amazon (ukusajp), eBooks

New book: cork oak ecology

October 14th, 2009 No comments
Cork Oak Woodlands on the Edge
Ecology, Adaptive Management, and Restoration

Editors: J. Aronson (CNRS, Montpellier),  J.S. Pereira (ISA, Lisbon),  J.G. Pausas (CSIC, Valencia)
Island Press, Washington DC, 2009
ISBN: 9781597264792 (paperback), 9781597264785 (hardcover)

More information: Book details and Table of Contents |  browse through the book (preprint version)  |  Google Books