Ferns are an integral part of the world's flora, appreciated for their beauty as ornamentals, problematic as invaders and endangered by human interference. They often dominate forest understories but also colonize open areas, invade waterways and survive in nutrient-poor wastelands and eroded pastures. Presented here is the first comprehensive summary of fern ecology, with worldwide examples from Siberia to the islands of Hawaii. Topics include a brief history of the ecological study of ferns, a global survey of fern biogeography, fern population dynamics, the role of ferns in ecosystem nutrient cycles, their adaptations to xeric environments and future directions in fern ecology. Fully illustrated concepts and processes provide a framework for future research and utilization of ferns for graduate students and professionals in ecology, conservation and land management.
Table of Contents
1. Ecological importance of ferns Joanne M. Sharpe, Klaus Mehltreter and Lawrence R. Walker; 2. Biogeography of ferns Michael Kessler; 3. Ecological insights from fern population dynamics Joanne M. Sharpe and Klaus Mehltreter; 4. Nutrient ecology of ferns Sarah J. Richardson and Lawrence R. Walker; 5. Fern adaptations to xeric environments Peter Hietz; 6. Ferns, disturbance and succession Lawrence R. Walker and Joanne M. Sharpe; 7. Interactions of ferns with fungi and animals Klaus Mehltreter; 8. Problem ferns: their impact and management Roderick Robinson, Elizabeth Sheffield and Joanne M. Sharpe; 9. Fern conservation Klaus Mehltreter; 10. Current and future directions in fern ecology Lawrence R. Walker, Klaus Mehltreter and Joanne M. Sharpe.
Klaus Mehltreter is researcher and professor at the Ecological Institute of Xalapa, Mexico. His research focuses on the ecology of tropical ferns in cloud forests, coastal mangroves and seasonally dry forests. He is author of over 25 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, coauthor of two floristic books (LOLA, Argentina) and co-editor of the book Biodiversity and Conservation in Coffee Agroecosystems (INECOL and INE, Mexico). He is a fellow of the Mexican research system (SNI, 2004-present). He is a life member of the IAPT and the American Fern Society, active member of the British Pteridological Society and the Association of Tropical Biology, and founding member of the Ecological Society of Mexico. In 2009-10 he spent a sabbatical year at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Lawrence R. Walker is a Professor of Plant Ecology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received his Ph.D. in 1985 from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. His research focuses on the mechanisms that drive plant succession, particularly primary succession on volcanoes, landslides, glacial moraines, floodplains, dunes, mine tailings and abandoned roads. He has co-written or co-edited four books on disturbance ecology, succession and restoration, published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, and is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher with over 2500 peer citations of his work. Walker received a Fulbright Award in 2004 for work in Iceland and has received three Distinguished Researcher awards from the University of Nevada. In 2009-10 he was the Wilder Chair in Botany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Joanne M. Sharpe is an independent consultant specializing in fern ecology, long-term studies, the role of amateurs in ecological research, and education. She received her Ph.D. in Botany at the University of Georgia in 1988. She is currently a Research Associate with the NSF-funded Luquillo Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program in Puerto Rico where for the past 18 years she has monitored fern growth and spore production as part of rainforest productivity, hurricane impact and demographic research projects. She has published 10 articles and presented interim results at numerous professional meetings. She compiles the Annual Review of Pteridological Research for the International Association of Pteridologists and manages their membership database thus maintaining contact with pteridologists throughout the world.