Michael L. Cain, Bowdoin College, William...

Michael L. Cain, Bowdoin College, William D. Bowman, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Sally D. Hacker, Oregon State University, Corvallis

expand authors


Sample Content
table of contents


A NEW EDITION will publish in March 2017!

The new Third Edition of Ecology remains focused on the primary goal of this bestselling book: to be the best teaching tool possible for students taking their first course in ecology. Toward that end, the authors updated, replaced, or cut sections of the text as appropriate, and they added a new chapter on...

A NEW EDITION will publish in March 2017!

The new Third Edition of Ecology remains focused on the primary goal of this bestselling book: to be the best teaching tool possible for students taking their first course in ecology. Toward that end, the authors updated, replaced, or cut sections of the text as appropriate, and they added a new chapter on Behavioral Ecology, an exciting and growing subfield of ecology that always draws high levels of student interest. In addition, recognizing the importance of hands-on learning, each chapter now includes new Analyzing Data exercises in which students work with real data. These exercises enable students to increase their facility with essential skills such as performing calculations, making graphs, designing experiments, and interpreting results. The authors also revised and strengthened key pedagogical features of Ecology, including:

  •  Hands-On Problems • This popular feature of the Companion Website is designed to sharpen scientific reasoning skills. Students are asked to manipulate data, to explore mathematical aspects of ecology in more detail through quantitative problems, to interpret results from real experiments, and to analyze simple model systems using simulations.
  • Case Studies • Chapter-opening Case Studies present an engaging story or interesting application, capturing the reader’s attention while introducing the topic of the chapter. Later, the authors bring the reader full circle with the corresponding “Case Study Revisited” section at chapter’s end.
  • Connections in Nature • To facilitate the ability of students to grasp how events in nature are interconnected, each chapter closes with a section that discusses how the material covered in that chapter affects and is affected by interactions at other levels of the ecological hierarchy. Where appropriate, these interconnections are also emphasized in the main body of the text.
  • Ecological Applications • Recent years have seen increased interest in applied aspects of ecology. Thus, ecological applications (including conservation biology) are woven into each chapter, helping to capture and retain student interest.
  • Links to Evolution • Evolution is a central unifying theme of all biology, and its connections with ecology are very strong. Ecology’s Chapter 6 explores the ecology of evolution at both the population level and as documented in the sweeping history of life on Earth. Evolution-related concepts and applications are also woven through many other chapters.
  • Ecological Toolkit • Many chapters include an Ecological Toolkit that describes ecological “tools” such as aspects of experimental design, remote sensing and GIS, mark–recapture techniques, stable isotope analysis, and DNA fingerprinting.
  • Climate Change Connections • Many of Ecology’s chapters include a major climate change example, with additional content on the Companion Website. These Climate Change Connections discuss how the example students just read about connects to other levels of the ecological hierarchy and enrich students’ understanding of ongoing climate change and its implications for conservation and ecosystem services.
  • In-Class Exercises • These ready-to-go problems take about ten minutes to do and can be used in class or assigned as homework.

NEW! Ecology 3e/SimBio Virtual Lab®

Sinauer Associates offers a lab pack of six popular SimBio Virtual Labs®, for sale both as a standalone item and in affordably priced bundles with the casebound and looseleaf editions of Ecology, Third Edition. (See below.) Thoughtfully selected to complement concepts and applications covered in the textbook, these labs include:

Finches and Evolution
This laboratory explores how selection can act on two multi-locus traits as the selection regime changes. The experimental system is beak width and depth of Darwin’s finches in wet and dry environments. Students observe consequences of manipulating optimal width and/or depth, selection strengths, correlations between the traits, and other factors that can affect the way selection acts.
Key Concepts: Natural Selection; Speciation

Isle Royale
This popular laboratory is based on a predator–prey system involving wolves and moose on an island in Lake Superior. Students start out by characterizing the growth of a colonizing population of moose in the absence of predators. Next, they introduce wolves, and study the resulting predator–prey cycles. Finally, they try changing the plant growth rate to see how primary production influences population dynamics.
Key Concepts: Carrying Capacity; Population Growth; Predator–Prey Dynamics

The Barnacle Zone
This lab recreates the classic experiments of Connell investigating why the barnacles Chthamalus and Balanus have distinct distributions in the rocky intertidal zone of Scotland. Students first observe the distributions, then try to tease apart the causes through a series of removal and transplant experiments. In the more advanced section of the lab, students can add a predatory snail, creating a new distribution.
Key Concepts: Abiotic and Biotic Factors; Competition; Niches

Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis
Using a model of succession from grasses to trees, students begin by observing a successional sequence without disturbance. Then they get to start setting fires. By systematically varying the size and frequency of fires, students reconstruct the hypothesized relationship between disturbance frequency and diversity.
Key Concepts: Disturbance; Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis; Scientific Modeling; Succession

Top-Down Control
In this highly open-ended lab, students first observe what happens when fish are added to a fish-free lake. Next, they are taught to use experimental tools such as species additions and subtractions, controlled tank experiments, behavioral observations to find feeding preferences, and more. Their challenge is to generate and test hypotheses to explain the trophic cascades and competitive dynamics they observe in the lake.
Key Concepts: Experimental Design; Food Chains; Trophic Cascades; Trophic Levels

Patchy Prairies
Using a simulation of a population of the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly, students are challenged to propose and justify (based on their own data) a habitat restoration scheme that will maximize survivorship of butterflies, given pre-existing patches of prairie. Students explore edge effects, how landscape features might affect population survival, and how using models can help guide research.
Key Concepts: Habitat Restoration; Metapopulations; Patchiness; Reserve Design

read more

Michael L. Cain, having opted to change careers and focus full-time on writing, is currently affiliated with Bowdoin College. After receiving his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University, he was a faculty member at New Mexico State University and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. In addition to his work on this book, Dr. Cain is a coauthor of Campbell’s Biology (Tenth Edition) and Biology in Focus (First Edition). He has instructed students across a wide range of subjects, including introductory biology, ecology, field ecology, evolution, botany, mathematical biology, and biostatistics. His research interests include: plant ecology; long-distance dispersal; ecological and evolutionary dynamics in hybrid zones; and search behavior in plants and animals.

William D. Bowman is Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, affiliated with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Mountain Research Station, and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. He earned his Ph.D. from Duke University. Dr. Bowman has taught courses in introductory ecology, plant ecology, plant–soil interactions, and ecosystems ecology, and for over two decades he has directed undergraduate summer field courses and research programs. His research focuses on the intersections of physiological ecology, community dynamics, and ecosystem function, particularly in the context of environmental change.

Sally D. Hacker is Professor at Oregon State University, Corvallis, where she has been a faculty member since 2004. As a community ecologist interested in natural and managed coastal, dune, and estuarine communities, Dr. Hacker’s research explores the structures, functions, and services of communities under varying contexts of species interactions and global change. Her work has most recently focused on the protective role of ecosystems in mitigating coastal vulnerability due to climate change. She is author or co-author on numerous articles and book chapters exploring species interactions, marine invasions, and ecosystem services important to marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based management. She teaches courses in introductory ecology, community ecology, and marine biology.

“A very nice, concise, well organized presentation of ecology. It is one of the best books on any topic I have ever used.”
—Robert Hamilton, Alice Lloyd College

“This past fall, I taught a 200-level ecology course at Colby and used Cain et al. as the textbook. I found the test bank questions written by Norman Johnson to be extraordinarily useful. I tend to be skeptical about test bank questions in general, and almost never use them, so it was a very pleasant surprise for me to see how good they were. I didn't actually use them as a test-bank, but chose selected questions to use for in-class review and discussion prompts. The book overall was wonderful, too!”
—Judy Stone, Colby College

For the Student

Companion Website (
Includes: Chapter Summaries, Chapter Outlines, Hands-On Problems, Flashcards and Key Terms, Suggested Readings, Glossary, Online Quizzes, Web Extensions, Climate Change Connections, and Web Stats Review

For the Instructor (Available to Qualified Adopters)

Instructor’s Resource Library
Includes: Textbook Figures and Tables (PPT and JPEG, high- and low-resolution), Lecture PowerPoint Presentations, Test Bank (MS Word format), Computerized Test Bank (Diploma format), Hands-On Problems (Student and Instructor Versions), Supplemental Photographs (PPT and JPEG), and Chapter Outlines

If you have adopted this text for course use (within the U.S. or Canada) and are interested in the instructor’s supplements that accompany the text, please contact Susan McGlew at [email protected]. Outside the U.S. or Canada? Check the orders and returns page for the distributor in your region.

Available Product Bundles

Ecology A Primer of Ecology $184.41
all for
add to cart

Ecology and A Primer of Ecology for $156.75 (Suggested List Price: $184.41)

Ecology SimBio® Lab Pack Access Card $155.46
all for
add to cart

Ecology and SimBio® Lab Pack Access Card for $135.89 (Suggested List Price: $155.46)