The Best Ecology Textbooks of 2021

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Are you struggling in class and looking for reference books for ecology that will help you learn and retain the material?  Are you looking for content on ecology concepts and applications?  If you can answer yes to either of these questions, you’ve found the perfect article.  Let’s face it, ecology can be hard, and there is nothing worse than continuously sitting in a course you don’t understand.

Finding the right resources for learning the various elements of ecology is not an easy task.  That’s why we are here to help you.  The resources in this list are recommended by students and test-takers just like you.  We have done all of the research, so you don’t have to.

Instead, you are looking for something short, long, or in between – it is on this list.  Don’t put your career as an ecologist on hold just yet.  With the items on this list, you’ll be back on track in no time.  The details on this list can not only help you with the fundamentals of ecology, but it can also help you with the mathematics behind evolution and models.

So, what are you waiting for?  Keep reading to see the texts that we highly recommend.  You can thank us later.

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top choice for ecology textbooks here.

Our Top Favorite
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems
Our Top Runner Up
Elements of Ecology
Our Top Value Pick
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Book Title
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems, 4th Edition
Elements of Ecology 9th Edition
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems
Book Title
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems, 4th Edition
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Elements of Ecology
Book Title
Elements of Ecology 9th Edition
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Book Title
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Prime Eligible?
-

Last update: 2021-08-31

Our Favorites for Best Ecology Textbooks

Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems, 4th Edition by Michael Begon, Colin R. Townsend, & John L. Harper

Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems is a text which comes highly regarded by individuals in the education and ecology industry.  It provides comprehensive information about all things ecology with information related to specific fields of ecology, as well.  This essential textbook is often regarded as one of the best ecology textbooks to use as a reference guide.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems contains information on a variety of topics. This includes principles of ecology, the current state of the world’s ecological systems, and even material for preparing how to address environmental issues.
  • This highly recommended text also comes with an abundance of study aids and helpful information. These aids include things like chapter summaries, margin notes, and more.
  • It possesses a wide range of studies, examples, and information, even for the advanced ecologist.
  • Several experienced and well-educated ecologists have written this text and provided an abundance of scientific and research information.

Why Choose this Ecology Book:

  • Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems includes an abundance of charts, diagrams, and figures to help the reader understand and retain the fundamentals of ecology. The text is written enthusiastically and is anything but dry. It’s is the perfect book to use as reference material or within the field.
  • This ecology textbook contains an abundance of examples and clear explanations. Many individuals who used this previously in class, now use the text as a reference guide.
  • Many ecologists say that it is an essential book for their profession.

On Sale
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems
  • Begon, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 864 Pages - 02/01/2021 (Publication Date) - Wiley (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


Ecology: Concepts and Applications 8th Edition by Manuel Molles & Anna Sher

Ecology: Concepts and Applications is aimed at helping students understand the basics of ecology.  This book is a great book to get students to grasp and retain the fundamentals of ecology.  It includes information about natural history, adaptations to the planet, and information about the ecosystem. Manuel Molles and Ana Sher write the book.  Molles is a professor of biology who was initially trained as a marine ecologist.  Anna Sher is a professor of biological sciences and has also taught ecology in the past.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Ecology: Concepts and Applications is divided into six different sections. Each section encompasses a separate area of ecology. These include ecosystems, population ecology, evolution, and much more.
  • The end of each chapter includes an Application section. The application section references the practical application of the ecology concepts learned within a given chapter.  This section aims to reinforce the student’s love for ecology.
  • The end of the chapter also includes a multitude of information to reinforce the information students have learned. This contains summaries, key terms, and review questions.
  • The introduction of each chapter ensures that anyone reading Ecology: Concepts and Applications know precisely what the section is about and what to expect.
  • The book incorporates information on the economy of nature as well as information on concepts like mutualism and social relations.

Why Choose this Ecology Book:

  • Ecology: Concepts and Applications is an excellent text for students who are new to ecology and looking to learn about several general concepts.
  • The book contains several experiment examples and information from various researchers.
  • This is one of the best general ecology textbooks for students and is often used as the required textbook for college and even some high school students.
  • Ecology: Concepts and Applications can also be grouped with material that will aid the user in retaining information through practice. This material includes Connect and SmartBook.  Both of these programs are tailored to provide a personalized experience with the text.  SmartBook can learn more about the student as it is used.  This knowledge aids in offering information to students about the concepts which they are struggling with.  It aims to close any knowledge gaps that students may have.

Ecology: Concepts and Applications
  • Molles, Manuel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages - 03/15/2018 (Publication Date) - McGraw-Hill Education (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


Runner Ups for Best Ecology Textbooks

Elements of Ecology 9th Edition by Thomas M. Smith & Robert Leo Smith

Elements of Ecology is known for its extreme focus on evolution.  However, the latest edition incorporates more practical examples of how ecology applies to real life.  It also includes information on issues with human ecology throughout the text.  The book is written by two ecology and biology professionals who have done extensive research on the global environment.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Elements of Ecology includes research examples that are current and reinforce the fundamental ecology information.
  • The text can also come with the Mastering Biology software. This software is used for online quizzes, assignments, tutorials, and a variety of assessments.  The book and software work together to create an overall experience.
  • With this engaging ecology book, students receive over 200 charts and images.
  • The end of each chapter comes with an article that is used to tie it back to practical application. It provides information on real and relevant scientific studies.
  • A new chapter was introduced to focus on climate change. This chapter now provides relevant information, data, and examples.

Why Choose this Ecology Book:

  • Many users say that the text is an easy read and provides an abundance of information for budding ecologists. Elements of Ecology is often a college required read.
  • This is a book that aids students in developing their analytical and quantitative skills.
  • If the text is purchased with loose pages, the book can easily be carried in a binder or trapper keeper for ease of transport.
  • Elements of Ecology also offers new sections to help students analyze and interpret data. Questions related to figures and charts have been added to ensure that students can consider and imagine a variety of outcomes from similar data.

On Sale
Elements of Ecology
  • Paperback
  • Smith, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


A Primer of Ecology 4th Edition by Nicholas J. Gotelll

A Primer of Ecology is all about the mathematical models in the community and mathematical ecology. It is aimed at being a reference text, primary text, and even a self-teaching guide. If you are looking to learn about population growth, predation, and more, this is the perfect text for you. The book highlights the essential equations needed within ecology.

What Makes It Unique:

  • A Primer of Ecology goes into detail of the equations used within population ecology. This includes exponential population growth, logical population growth, and aged population growth.
  • The text includes an appendix filled with a variety of necessary differential equations.
  • A Primer of Ecology has been used in several university-level courses across the country. The material in the text, for some, can be massively advanced.
  • This text focuses on the distribution and predictions of nature. It digs into the various mathematical equations in a step by step format.
  • The book does an excellent job of explaining items in detail and putting emphasis on the keywords and equations.
  • A Primer of Ecology aims to demystify the math behind ecologic models.

Why Choose this Ecology Book:

  • If you have a deep interest in the mathematical side of ecology, this is the perfect book for you. Though it could be slightly overwhelming for beginning ecology students, it would be a helpful reference text.
  • Many students say that the book provides a great understanding of mathematical concepts. Though, it slightly lacks in review questions.
  • A Primer of Ecology is an excellent refresher text for students looking to brush up on their skills. This would make an excellent supplemental text to an advanced ecology course.
  • For many students, Ecological modeling has never been clearer.
  • Many readers rave that the book provides the best comprehensive review of population and community ecology.
  • Though the author states that an abundant knowledge of ecology is not needed, some users disagree. Even Ph.D. instructors have assigned this book to be used in more advanced sectors of science, as noted by some students.

A Primer of Ecology
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Gotelli, Nicholas J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


Value Picks for Best Ecology Textbooks

Ecology: The Economy of Nature by Robert Ricklefs, Rick Relyea

Ecology: The Economy of Nature provides large amounts of information in a uniquely organized manner.  The book provides real-world application of concept information as well as research info.  It is written in everyday language, which is easy for students to understand and diminishes the complexity of concepts.

The text is written by two educational professionals with extensive ecological experience.  Rick Relyea is a renowned professor with extensive experience serving as a professor.  He has taught over a thousand undergraduate courses and published several letters.

What Makes it Unique:

  • Every chapter contains a discussion of global issues at the end of each of them. Every chapter also contains information on the real-world application of concepts and the underlying ecological concepts associated with them.
  • Each chapter contains figures and charts which use real data and help students to interpret scientific data.
  • Each chapter contains no more than 4 to 5 concepts to ensure not to overwhelm students. The chapters also include interesting articles that relate to the idea discussed in the chapter.
  • Ecology: The Economy of Nature also comes with SaplingPlus. SaplingPlus is an online tutorial system that provides a robust resource library.  These resources include multimedia resources, an accompanying eBooks and even an assessment library.
  • Within the book, students are presented with learning goals, new and exciting examples, concept checks, and even media resources. Users get video tutorials and the accompaniment of analytical ecology essays.

Why Choose this Ecology Book:

  • Many students say that the graphs and figures help understand the material and grasp complex concepts. Overall, it was an easy read, which drastically benefited students.
  • Ecology: The Economy of Nature has aided students in the passing of their courses and served as reference texts through other ecology-related classes. It also places emphasis on the quantitative aspects of ecology.
  • This book has also served as a shaper of introductory courses everywhere for more than four decades.

On Sale
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
  • Relyea, Rick (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 640 Pages - 06/10/2019 (Publication Date) - W. H. Freeman (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


How to Choose the Best Ecology Textbook for You

Choosing a textbook can be hard and sometimes overwhelming if you aren’t sure of what you are looking for.  Ecology textbooks can cover a wide array of materials. However, the main goal of an ecology textbook is to not only improve the reader’s understanding of the topic but to cover topics like populations, distribution, biomass, and biodiversity.  It should also be able to teach individuals new and relevant material.

To choose the best Ecology Textbook, you must first know and understand what you are looking for.  The textbook of your choice is solely based on your needs.  You can begin your journey by asking yourself a few questions like the ones listed below.

  • Are you looking for a general guide?
  • Is your search more focused?
  • Is there a specific area of ecology you want to zero in on?

Once you have an answer to those questions, you can begin to dive further into your intentions. After determining the type of book that you need, you then must ask yourself several questions regarding the structure of the book you are looking for.

  • Will this be a reference guide for another course?
  • What should the structure of the book be?
  • Is this a leisure read or an educational read?

Many ecologists recommend several books that aren’t generally considered “textbooks,” however, these are books that may teach you lessons in ecology. For example, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is a book that is highly recommended for ecology students to read.  However, it is not a textbook.  Instead, it is one man’s journey to understand everything.  This is simply the product of meeting with multiple scientists, archeologists, and so much more.

Outside of the information which has been listed, users must also think about the relevance of the book that is being chosen.  If you are looking for a book regarding current ecological issues, chances are, you will not select a text from the 1990s or even from 2000.  You will find the most up to date information in the newest available books.

Lastly, you must ensure that you choose a book that matches your understanding.  You should not choose a graduate-level book if you are a beginning ecology student.  You do not want your textbook to be deeper than your actual knowledge.

Wrapping Up the Best Ecology Textbooks

We’ve gone over a lot today. Here’s a helpful table to consolidate every ecology textbook we went over:

Our Top Favorite
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems
Our Top Runner Up
Elements of Ecology
Our Top Value Pick
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Book Title
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems, 4th Edition
Elements of Ecology 9th Edition
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems
Book Title
Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems, 4th Edition
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Elements of Ecology
Book Title
Elements of Ecology 9th Edition
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Book Title
Ecology: The Economy of Nature
Prime Eligible?
-

Last update: 2021-08-31

If you are looking or the best ecology textbook, you are sure to find it within this list.  This list contains several textbook options to aid students during their time in ecology courses or to serve as references on their path to becoming an ecologist.

However, before you can begin to pick the perfect textbook, you must determine precisely what you are looking for.  To come to this conclusion, you must ask yourself a series of questions in regard to your intent. These include things like ensuring that the book matches your understanding of the topic and what you are hoping to achieve from the book you select.

Once you have taken the answers to these questions into account, you are ready to pick a resource.  If you are looking for the best general ecology textbook, Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems is an excellent option.  It is highly recommended by teachers, students, and a variety of ecologists.  It is regarded as one of the best general ecology textbooks.

Another favorite for ecology students looking to expand their knowledge and find a reference text is A Primer of Ecology 4th Edition by Nicholas J. Gotelll.  This text is perfect for individuals who are looking to expand on mathematical functions and study the math behind populations and their growth.

Last but not least, Ecology: The Economy of Nature is another great option, and still another great book to study ecology from individuals to ecosystems.  No matter what book you choose, every book on this list will provide users with a general overview of what ecology is and its in-depth principles.

No matter what text you choose, we hope that you are fully prepared to enter into the world of ecology.  Remember, there is no perfect text.  Instead, you must figure out what fits you and go with it.  Happy reading!

Did you enjoy this post? Then be sure to check out our other textbook reviews here.

Taking ecology? We cover the best earth science textbooks here, the best physical science textbooks, and the best biology textbooks here.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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