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Their Natural History

2nd Edition


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  • Date Published: April 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521133586

$ 49.99

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About the Authors
  • Trees are familiar components of many landscapes and have been vital in determining the ecology of our planet as well as the development of human cultures and communities. Yet how much do we really understand about how they work? This updated and revised edition provides a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of tree biology and ecology and presents the state-of-the-art discoveries in this area. The wonders and mysteries of trees are explored throughout the book and questions such as why leaves turn spectacular colours in the autumn, how water reaches the top of the tallest trees, or why the study of genetics has caused so many name changes in trees are all brilliantly answered. Written with a non-technical approach, this book will be a valuable source of reference for students and those with a less formal interest in this fascinating group of plants.

    • Updated and revised edition - new chapter on the interactions between humans and trees
    • Unique, non-technical approach - the story of how trees work
    • Comprehensive coverage - includes information on all stages of the life of a tree
    • Provides fascinating insights into the workings of these everyday plants
    Read more


    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2015

    Reviews & endorsements

    Praise from the previous edition: 'Never less than interesting, it is written in non-technical language that is consistently illuminating …' New Scientist

    Praise from the previous edition: '… an excellent book … The author has used an easy-to-read style with occasional quirky asides to keep the readers' attention …' Bulletin, British Ecological Society

    Praise from the previous edition: 'So, if trees have always fascinated you and if you have any trees in your guardianship, read this book. Even a quick skimming of its pages will enlighten you and make you curious to know more.' Sue Roe, Gardens Illustrated

    Praise from the previous edition: '… [the author's] enthusiasm and love of trees is apparent on every page … it has become my 'tree bible'. I hope it will become yours!' The Dendrologist

    'A thoughtful and informative book, logically and sequentially set out for anyone with an interest in trees, whether professional or amateur. The reader is guided through the physiological and structural characteristics of the tree, through its life cycle from seed to antiquity and finally to an exploration of the relationship between trees and people … The text, which flows smoothly with academic rigour, succeeds in communicating in an easy to read fashion for both academic and the non academic. Each section is punctuated with interesting and useful snippets of information from around the world related to the specific chapter topic being discussed and each chapter can be read independently of the others … The text is well supported by excellent photographs and beautifully drawn graphics which enhance and clarify the subject matter throughout the book … It is the combination of all the factors above which makes this book so useful and interesting.' Keith Sacre, Barcham Trees

    'Peter Thomas has a rare ability to communicate complex biological processes in an accessible way while offering the understanding of a real expert. The first edition succeeded in the author's aim of bringing together a dispersed literature on the natural history of trees. This edition expands and updates the first edition with recent insights into the biology and ecology of trees and their relationship to us. I consider it to be essential reading for all those with a personal or professional interest in trees and am convinced every reader will gain a deeper understanding of trees from the rich content of this book. Even if you are only casually interested in trees, buy it, read it and be inspired by their fascinating life!' Andrew Hirons, Myerscough College

    'I look forward to second editions because there is always a synthesis of more literature and stronger evidence for hypotheses. This volume lives up to the highest of expectations. It is an encyclopedia of neat ideas on the features of trees. The photography and choice of figures and tables add to the clarity of explanations. The concluding chapter resonates with current societal issues of environmentalism, nature attention deficit, and back-to-nature movements … This contribution speaks to a wide readership of gardeners, students, and naturalists. Dr Thomas is a master communicator in melding the topic of trees into the everyday experiences of the reader. He personalizes science … This book is like visiting a botanical garden with a guide who has travelled the world; and Dr Thomas has travelled the world to find these gems of information. After reading this book the reader will no longer look at a tree with indifference.' Ross W. Wein, Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta

    'The best general work on trees to come out in 2014 … this book offers fascinating insights and can be usefully read by anyone, student, amateur or professional, and should be on any reading list.' Pro Arb Magazine

    'The much-abused term 'well-written' sits very comfortably here; you could buy this book for an aspiring young biologist, a relative with an interest in trees, your local landscape architect or planner … If you bought the first edition, this one is newer and better. If you didn't buy it last time, think again.' Alan Crowden, Bulletin, British Ecological Society

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    Product details

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: April 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521133586
    • length: 408 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 172 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.82kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 218 colour illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. An overview
    2. Leaves: the food producers
    3. Trunk and branches: more than a connecting drainpipe
    4. Roots: the hidden tree
    5. Towards the next generation: flowers, fruits and seeds
    6. The growing tree
    7. The shape of trees
    8. The next generation: new trees from old
    9. Age, health, damage and death: living in a hostile world
    10. Trees and us
    Further reading

  • Author

    Peter A. Thomas, Keele University
    Peter Thomas is senior lecturer in botanical and environmental science at Keele University, UK with 30 years of experience in ecological aspects of trees and forest ecology in the UK, North and Central America, Europe, Africa, Russia and Australasia. He has written two other books for Cambridge University Press: Ecology of Woodlands and Forests (with John Packham, 2007) and Fire in the Forest (with Robert S. McAlpine, 2010).


    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2015

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