In examining both theory and applications, this book, through useful examples, provides a stimulating introduction to ecosystems. It examines the nature, types and characteristics of ecosystems as well as investigating the interactions between various systems and human actions. Using functional ecology as the basis for applying the ecosystem concept in contemporary environmental science and ecology, this second edition of this highly successful volume has been updated to reflect the latest research. It incorporates a strengthened theme in the use of functional ecology in explaining how ecosystems work and how the ecosystem concept may be used in science and applied science, and coverage of the interactions between humans and ecosystems has been substantially bolstered with the addition of chapters on human impacts and large scale impacts on ecosystems, and global environmental change and the consequences for ecosystems. Presented in a student-friendly format, this book features boxed definitions, examples, case studies, summary points, discussion questions and annotated further reading lists. It provides a concise and accessible synthesis of both ecosystem theory and its applications, and will be a valuable resource for students of environmental studies, ecology and geography.