UK Nonlinear News, March 2003

Diffusion and Ecological Problems - Modern Perspectives

A. Okubo and S.A.Levin

Reviewed by John Brindley

Second edition. Springer-Verlag, 2002. Hardcover. ISBN 0-387-98676-6.

At a range of more than 20 years, Okubo's "Diffusion and Ecological Problems" still stands like a mighty peak, by which a host of ecological modellers steer their research voyages. This considerably extended and updated Second Edition, nobly completed by Simon Levin, with the help of several others, following Okubo's death in 1996, is a timely and, more importantly, a worthy successor. The basic core of the book,a mathematical treatment of both passive diffusion and "biological" diffusion, in which the dispersive motion of individuals is no longer representable by a random process, remains, occupying the first five chapters. Its detail, however, is thoroughly revised to include numerous advances since the 1970s, examples being correlated random walks and internal-state mediated taxis. The numerous specific biological examples draw heavily on recent work, as do the much enhanced chapters on animal grouping and on spatial patchiness, both of which have received much attention over the past two decades.The broader aspects of fully spatiotemporal population dynamics are covered in a comprehensive final chapter. Overall, the great value of this Second Edition is its encyclopaedic coverage of those dynamic ecological phenomena in which diffusion plays a crucial role. There are gaps - indeed Professor Levin remarks on the "somewhat idiosyncratic coverage" - but the absence of this book from the shelves of any active ecological modeller would be a serious gap indeed.

UK Nonlinear News would like to thank Springer Press for providing a review copy of this book.

A listing of books reviewed in UK Nonlinear News is available.

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