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Land abandonment is increasing as human influence on the globe intensifies and various ecological, social, and economic factors conspire to force the cessation of agriculture and other forms of land management. The “old fields” that result from abandonment have been the subject of much study, yet few attempts have been made to examine the larger questions raised by old field dynamics.
Old Fields brings together leading experts from around the world to synthesize past and current work on old fields, providing an up-to-date perspective on the ecological dynamics of abandoned land. The book gives readers a broad understanding of why agricultural land is abandoned, the factors that determine the ecological recovery of old fields, and how this understanding contributes to theoretical and applied ecology.
Twelve case studies from diverse geographical and climatic areas—including Australian rainforest, Brazilian Amazonia, New Jersey piedmont, and South African renosterveld—offer a global perspective on the causes and results of land abandonment. Concluding chapters consider the similarities and differences among the case studies, examine them in the context of ecological concepts, and discuss their relevance to the growing field of restoration ecology.
Old Fields is the first book to draw together studies on old fields from both a theoretical and practical perspective. It represents an important contribution to the development of theory on old field dynamics and the practice of ecological restoration on abandoned farmland, and the broader implications of old field dynamics to ecology and restoration.
"Conservation of plant communities often boils down to managing succession. Nowhere is this more obviously true than in old fields. This book powerfully illustrates the great variety of patterns and processes that take place in abandoned agricultural land around the globe. It is an invaluable guide to how nature beats ploughshares into swards."
Jonathan Silvertown, author of "Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity"
"The lessons to be learned from the study of old field succession are important for both ecology in general and restoration ecology in particular. This volume presents a sound conceptual framework with discussion of the socioeconomic causes of land abandonment skillfully interwoven with case histories from around the globe. It is an invaluable addition to the SER series, and important for researchers, students, and practitioners. I recommend it without reservation."
Jim Harris, Professor, Department of Natural Resources, Cranfield University, UK
"Agriculturally transformed land is being abandoned as economics and lifestyles change globally, and in all sorts of ecosystems. In Old Fields, the editors use cases from around the world to compare theoretical models of old field vegetation change with reality, challenging us to know when benign neglect or active restoration will maximize the ecological or socioeconomic values of old field ecosystems."
Suzanne J. Milton, Professor, Department of Conservation Ecology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Chapter 1. Why Old Fields? Socioeconomic and Ecological Causes and Consequences of Land Abandonment
PART I. Old Fields and the Development of Ecological Concepts
Chapter 2. Old Field Succession: Development of Concepts
Chapter 3. Old Fields as Complex Systems: New Concepts for Describing the Dynamics of Abandoned Farmland
PART II. Case Studies from Around the World
Chapter 4. Implications of Land Use History for Natural Forest Regeneration and Restoration Strategies in Puerto Rico
Chapter 5. Processes Affecting Succession in Old Fields of Brazilian Amazonia
Chapter 6. Old Field Vegetation Succession in the Neotropics
Chapter 7. Patterns and Processes of Old Field Reforestation in Australian Rain Forest Landscapes
Chapter 8. Succession on the Piedmont of New Jersey and Its Implications for Ecological Restoration
Chapter 9. Succession and Restoration in Michigan Old Field Communities
Chapter 10. Old Field Succession in Central Europe: Local and Regional Patterns
Chapter 11. Dynamics and Restoration of Abandoned Farmland and Other Old Fields in Southern France
Chapter 12. Land Abandonment and Old Field Dynamics in Greece
Chapter 13. Old Field Dynamics on the Dry Side of the Mediterranean Basin: Patterns and Processes in Semiarid Southeast Spain
Chapter 14. Restoration of Old Fields in Renosterveld: A Case Study in a Mediterranean-type Shrubland of South Africa
Chapter 15. Prospects for the Recovery of Native Vegetation in Western Australian Old Fields
PART III. Synthesis: Old Field Dynamics and Restoration
Chapter 16. Old Field Dynamics: Regional and Local Differences, and Lessons for Ecology and Restoration
About the Editors
About the Contributors