Forests at the land–atmosphere interface: a tribute to Dr Paul Jarvis


Mencuccini, M., Grace, J., Moncrieff, J. & McNaughton, K.G. (eds) ( 2003 ) Forests at the land–atmosphere interface . CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK . xx + 281 pp . , figs, tables, line diagrams, halftones, colour plates, index. Hardback: price £60.00, US$100.00 , ISBN 0851996779.

The book Forests at the land–atmosphere interface is a tribute to the outstanding career of Dr Paul Jarvis. A special meeting honouring the retirement of Dr Jarvis was held in Edinburgh in 2001, attended by many scientists whom he had mentored or collaborated with during his distinguished career at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. Indeed, the meeting itself would have been an amazing opportunity to meet many of the current and past leaders in forest ecophysiology and micrometeorology. This book presents chapters authored by the meeting attendees and others who have contributed to this tribute.

The book has 17 chapters covering general topic areas of stomatal function, large-scale processes, radiation modelling, forest meteorology, carbon sequestration and natural-resource management. This is an interesting collection of papers. Some of the chapters present a basic historical perspective whereas others are great reviews of the science or descriptions of current scientific developments. The 35 contributors have all done a good job of contributing to this diversity, such that there are chapters that everyone can truly enjoy, even if you do not wish to delve into the details of a specific process. The focus is mostly on Europe, but authors from Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Asia and North America have also contributed. This shows the strong linkages among researchers in forest ecophysiology/micrometeorology, and also the influence that Dr Jarvis has had internationally. Indeed, it has been this cross-fertilization of ideas that has pushed the science forward. One of the more amazing aspects is that there were few practical or policy-driven reasons to study forest ecophysiology in the 1960s and even 1970s. It has been the issue of increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide that has made these decades of research so relevant. Many of the principles employed today in carbon-cycle science and global flux networks are derived from the fundamentals developed by Dr Jarvis and his contemporaries.

Given the diversity of the book, it is not easy to recommend it to any specific audience. Instead, I believe that specific chapters of the book will fulfil needs for different audiences. For example, chapters on stomata by Leuning, Tuzet and Perrier, on the diurnal cycle over land by Betts, and thermal radiation and evaporation by Jones, Archer and Rotenberg can be used as the basis for teaching courses on forest ecophysiology. Chapters on forest evaporation by Stewart and carbon sequestration by Landsberg and Waring give good literature reviews for a student who is searching for an overview of a subject. There are also several research chapters that are more friendly to read than the typical journal paper. One of the most interesting chapters is by Belinda Medlyn on the contributions of Dr Jarvis to the development of the MAESTRO model. It really shows how various ideas came together, especially during researcher exchanges; stories that are typical in many disciplines, but are seldom written. Each chapter has a good list of references that reflect the subject.

The book also has some good articles on ‘the big picture’ from two perspectives. First, it shows how the forest physiological data link to larger spatial scales, including mesoscale and continent-wide scaling. Second, it shows how ecophysiological knowledge is tied to international policy, such as the Kyoto Protocol. These are great examples of how research on forests at the land–atmosphere interface has helped us understand how the world works, and what we can do to preserve the natural balance. This book would be a good acquisition for institution libraries.