David M. Wilkinson
British Wildlife 32.8 August 2021

Peering into the future with help from the past: the importance of long-term ecological studies

The latest in Collins’ long-running New Naturalist series, Ecology and Natural History, makes extensive use of long-term studies from British sites to introduce key ideas in ecology, with each chapter starting at a classic location relevant to its topic. Here, author David Wilkinson presents a small selection of the most famous experimental sites in Britain, and explains their contributions to the discipline of ecology in this country and beyond.

In the oversimplified world of textbook summaries or TV documentaries, an area of science often has a definitive founding moment, such as Darwin’s ‘origin of species’ for evolutionary biology or Watson and Crick’s famous paper on the structure of DNA for molecular biology. Look in more detail, however, and usually you will see a long run-up of earlier work preceding the iconic founding event. Ecology is no different.

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