The write stuff: Biology professor's landscape ecology book honored for influence on field
MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University ecologist is receiving the top book award from the prestigious British Ecological Society.
Kimberly With, the author of "Essentials of Landscape Ecology," published in 2019 by the Oxford University Press, is the recipient of the society's Marsh Ecology Book of the Year award. The award recognizes the contributions authors make to ecology and acknowledges the important role that books have on ecology and its development. It is awarded to a book published in the last two years that has had the greatest influence on ecology or its application.
A professor in the Division of Biology, With is among 11 distinguished biologists being recognized with an award from the British Ecological Society for work that has benefited the scientific community and society in general.
With calls earning the award one of the greatest honors of her career.
"I am beyond grateful to receive this recognition, especially as writing this book has been a very personal experience that required taking some professional risks," With said. "Researching and writing this book has been the most challenging project of my career and ultimately, the most satisfying for me personally as well as professionally."
A comprehensive textbook, "Essentials of Landscape Ecology" looks at the diverse and multidisciplinary field of landscape ecology and presents the principles, theory, methods and applications of the field in an accessible format, supplemented by examples and case studies from a variety of systems, including freshwater and marine.
With said the landscape ecology field has grown beyond the study and management of landscapes at human-defined scales to encompass the study of how spatial or environmental heterogeneity influences ecological patterns and processes across a broad range of scales.
With humans altering ecologies across a wide range of scales, With said there is an urgent need to understand how these cross-scale interactions between humans and other types of disturbances alter species distributions and critical ecological and evolutionary processes in ways that could affect the long-term resilience and sustainability of ecosystems. She said landscape ecology provides an ideal framework for addressing those sorts of pattern-process linkages.
"As an organismic biologist with training in population and community ecology, this expanded definition of landscape ecology very much appealed to my interests, but it was not a view that was well represented in any of the available texts or edited volumes on the subject," With said. "'Essentials of Landscape Ecology' thus grew out of my own research interests, as well as from my experiences teaching various iterations of landscape ecology over the past two decades."
A faculty member at K-State since 2000, With runs the Laboratory for Landscape and Conservation Ecology, which studies the effects of habitat loss, fragmentation and land management on species and their interactions across small experimental landscapes to broad regional landscapes.
With said she was challenged in writing her textbook with striking a balance between a review of basic ecological/evolutionary principles and a more advanced treatment of theory and analytical approaches that students may wish to implement in their own research.
"In that sense, 'Essentials of Landscape Ecology' represents a collaboration with the many students who have taken my landscape ecology course over the years," With said. "I have learned as much from them as I hope they have learned from me."
British Ecological Society award winners will be presented with their prizes in December 2021 at the society's annual conference. The meeting will bring together 1,200 ecologists from around 60 countries to discuss the latest advances in ecological research across the whole discipline.