One technical feature we have retained in the book is the incorporation of marginal es as signposts throughout the text. These, we hope, will serve a number of purposes. In the first place, they constitute a series of subheadings highlighting the detailed structure of the text. However, because they are numerous and often informative in their own right, they can also be read in sequence along with the conventional subheadings, as an outline of each chapter. They should act too as a revision aid for students - indeed, they are similar to the annotations that students themselves often add to their textbooks. Finally, because the marginal notes generally summarize the take-home message of the paragraph or paragraphs that they accompany, they can act as a continuous assessment of comprehension: if you can see that the signpost is the take-home message of what you have just read, then you have understood. For this edition, though, we have also added a brief summary to each chapter, that, we hope, may allow readers to either orient and prepare themselves before they embark on the chapter or to remind themselves where they have just been.
So: to summarize and, to a degree, reiterate some key features of this fourth edition, they are:
• marginal notes throughout the text
• summaries of all chapters
• around 800 newly-incorporated studies
• three new chapters on applied ecology
• a reduction in overall length of around 15%
• a dedicated website (www.blackwellpublishing.com/begon), twinned with that for Essentials of Ecology, including interactive mathematical models, an extensive glossary, copies of artwork in the text, and links to other ecological sites
• an up-dating and redrawing of all artwork, which is also available to teachers on a CD-ROM for ease of incorporation into lecture material.
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