By Dieter Mueller-Dombois and Heinz Ellenberg
This book was written 30 years ago as the first synthesis of European and Anglo-American methods in vegetation ecology. Upon its publication in 1974, it rapidly became the standard text for the study of vegetation in over 60 US colleges and universities. An unsolicited review appeared in Ecology 56: 1233 (1975) with the title "Getting It All Together in Plant Synecology." The book also received wide international acceptance. After seven reprintings, the original publisher declared the book "out-of-print."
From the foreword to The Blackburn Press reprint:
"In his foreword to the 1974 edition, Raymond Fosberg referred to this book as 'by far the best work of its scope that I know.' My guess is, were he here today preparing a new foreword, that sentence would remain.
While the first edition was being prepared, the publisher asked me to be one of the outside reviewers. I was so delighted with the contents that I was using certain folios as a text and a personal reference even before final copies had been bound and shipped.
I still agree with Fosberg: there is no comparable work. My academic career began in 1967, so Aims and Methods was part of my library for all but the first few years. I used it as the only textbook for the first twenty offerings of one graduate course. For the past dozen years it's been moved to the recommended list because it has been out of print, requiring students to sort through awkward photocopies of some chapters and to fight out a sequence of loans for my only remaining published copy. There have, of course, been several vegetation science textbooks published since 1974, but their foci have been on ordination and multivariate data analysis instead of on sampling methods. No other text has covered the subject of vegetation sampling design in such depth, breadth, and impartiality as this book, Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. Most of this material remains as current and topical today as it was a quarter of a century ago, because the progress that has been made in vegetation science is in the computer-based treatment of sample data, not in the creation of new sampling protocols.
I am very pleased that a new generation of vegetation ecologists can now have the same advantage - the same easy access to this classic reference work - that my generation had in quantifying and summarizing the formidable complexity of natural, wildland vegetation."
Foreword by Michael G. Barbour, Plant Ecologist,
University of California at Davis,
Department of Environmental Horticulture, November 2002
About the authors:
Dieter Mueller-Dombois attended H. Ellenberg's introductory botany lectures in 1948/49 at the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim. After immigrating to Canada in 1952, he was inspired by V. J. Krajina in British Columbia to continue studies for a Ph.D. degree in Forest Ecology. In the mid-1960s, he resumed contact with H. Ellenberg, which thereafter resulted in this book. At the University of Hawai`i since 1963, D. Mueller-Dombois became the scientific coordinator of the Hawai`i contribution to the International Biological Program (IBP). The results of this multi-disciplinary research were published in Island Ecosystems: Biological Organization in Selected Hawaiian Communities. A later effort went into writing Vegetation of the Tropical Pacific Islands with F. R. Fosberg, published in 1998. The US Forest Service honored D. Mueller-Dombois with the Gifford Pinchot Award in 1981. In 2000, he received the Tuexen Prize in Germany.
Heinz Ellenberg was and remains a major influence on European vegetation ecology. His life's work was translated into English under the title Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe. During the 1970s, he directed the German contribution to the IBP, the results of which were published in Oekosystemforschung – Ergebnisse des Solling Projekts 1966-1986 edited by H. Ellenberg, R. Mayer, and J. Schauermann. One of Ellenberg's fundamental questions in vegetation ecology was, "What controls the combination of plant species in field communities?" Some important results in answer to this question are summarized in Chapter 12 of Aims & Methods of Vegetation Ecology. Professor Ellenberg was invited to give the Tansley lecture for the British Ecological Society in 1977. He received honorable doctors' degrees from four European universities (Munich, Zagreb, Muenster, and Lueneburg).