7 Best Ecology Textbooks (2023 Review)

If you want to understand the branch of biology related to the connection between living organisms and their natural environment, then you might want to study ecology.

This biological science draws upon the relationships that plants and animals have with their natural surroundings to evolution and the world around us.

best ecology textbooks

Best Ecology Textbooks: Our Top 7 Picks

There are hundreds of ecology textbooks on the market, but here we review seven of the best options to broaden your understanding of natural history.

1. Ecology: Concepts and Applications


For starters, this ecology textbook is available in paperback and Kindle formats. Ecology: Concepts and Applications in its 8th edition considers natural history, the universe we live in, and characteristic phenomena of living organisms on our planet. It pays particular attention to plant and animal life in a particular geographic region of the world and the biological concepts of how they live and thrive.

Students of ecology have a lot to benefit from Ecology: Concepts and Applications if they want to obtain evolutionary perspectives of our world. The ecology textbook is arranged in topical sections and organized to aid practical understanding rather than theoretical discourses. It is recommended for students and working ecologists who desire to upgrade their knowledge with the latest research in modern ecology.

Author(s): Manuel C. Molles Jr. and Anna A. Sher

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education

Current Edition: Kindle, 8th Edition (February, 2018)

Pages: 592

2. Ecology


This 5th edition of Ecology textbook by William Bowman and Sally Hacker covers ecology and evolutionary biology and other aspects of biological science. If you are a postgraduate research student or a first-level undergraduate, you will find this textbook helpful for understanding plant and soil chemistry, insect diversity, ethnobotany, rare species conservation, and climate change among other things.

Written by a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and a professor of integrative biology, this textbook covers the fundamentals of ecology and graduates to the advanced spectrum of the subject. The textbook is filled with colorful images and illustrations that drive home the topics, with lots of supporting materials and captivating examples. Users will benefit greatly study-driven approach and dynamically interactive styles of presentations.

Author(s): William D. Bowman and Sally D. Hacker

Publisher: Sinauer Associates

Current Edition: Paperback, 5th Edition (February, 2020)

Pages: 744

3. Ecology: Evolution, Application, Integration


In its second edition, Ecology: Evolution, Application, Integration teaches “students to place ecological problems in an evolutionary context.” This ecology textbook answers fundamental questions that legendary ecologists have raised over the decades, and it provides a basis for biological deductions based on modeling.

Written by a professor emeritus of biology, this academic material draws upon the decades-long experiences of the author to systematically dissect natural biology. It harnesses the academic strengths of practical accessibility, model integration, and logical soundness to reveal great biological phenomena. The author also used ample interactive examples and succinct review questions to explain complex ecological interactions in the simplest manner.

Author(s): David T. Krohne

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Current Edition: Paperback, 2nd Edition (July, 2017)

Pages: 576

4. The Ecology Book (Big Ideas)


This ecology textbook is part of the Big Ideas series from DK which uses striking graphics and engaging writing to break down complex topics. The Ecology Book (Big Ideas) series covers plant and animal species, natural environments, living ecosystems, population biodiversity, and climate on our planet. Written by a globally-recognized environmentalist with more than 30 years experience campaigning for environmental preservation, this book is all you need to understand our world.

This book features more than 90 greatest ideas in ecology and is chockful with facts, charts, timelines, and graphs to illustrate key points. It is written for undergraduates who want to understand our planet better and for working ecologists who desire to refresh and update their knowledge of our world. It addresses human impacts on our environment and how ecosystems change among other topical ecological issues.

Author(s): DK

Publisher: DK

Current Edition: Paperback (November, 2022)

Pages: 352

5. Ecology: Concepts and Applications


This ecology textbook covers major issues in biology, geology, geography, and the interactions of living things to make our environment what it is today. The 8th edition of Ecology: Concepts and Applications covers the planet’s history, our natural world, plants and animals, marine ecosystems, climate change, and how living things interact to make our world what it is today.

This book deals with the practical realities of our physical world than theoretical dynamics. It is arranged in three major sections – beginning, middle, and end – with each focusing on major topics of ecological concerns and biological science. It is recommended for students, educators, and hobbyists who love biology and ecology and want a concise and comprehensive resource for easy reference.

Author(s): Manuel Molles and Anna Sher

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

Current Edition: Paperback, 8th Edition (March, 2018)

Pages: 592

6. Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems


This 5th edition of Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems is touted as “a definitive guide to the depth and breadth of the ecological sciences – revised and updated.” This particular edition is published in full colors and contains hundreds of images and illustrations that give an understanding to key topics. It is written for undergraduates, researchers, and professional ecologists who must keep their knowledge up-to-date with latest ecological findings.

According to the authors, Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems draws attention to major issues in ecology and directs efforts at environmental problems of the future. It draws upon the ecological concerns we faced when the first edition of the textbook was published 34 years, to the emerging threats of an ever-changing world facing climate change and species extinctions.

This illustrated and topical textbook is recommended for students and ecologists who want to update or diversify their knowledge of our natural world. It can be used for examination purposes and to instruct others in classrooms, and it has a wide field application in marine, land, and atmospheric ecosystems. This book is available as a paperback, hardcover, and in digital formats for download.

Author(s): Michael Begon and Colin R. Townsend

Publisher: Wiley

Current Edition: Paperback, 5th Edition (February, 2021)

Pages: 864

7. Ecology


This textbook is recommended for anyone interested in understanding our natural world and how living interactions shape its future. In its 3rd edition, Ecology covers all the essentials of biological science and evolutionary biology for undergraduates, educators, working ecologists, and hobbyists. This revised edition contains behavioral ecology, plant ecology, evolutionary dynamics in hybrid zones, plant and animal behaviors, long-distance dispersal, as well as data exercises that users can apply to test their knowledge.

The authors are experts at biology, field oncology, evolution, botany, mathematical biology, and biostatistics among others. They applied their skills of plant-soil interactions, ecosystems ecology, community dynamics, marine invasions, and global warming to author this ecology textbook. It is recommended for everyone interested in biological science, evolutionary biology, and ecological science at all levels of academic or professional applications.

Author(s): Michael L. Cain; William D. Bowman; and Sally D. Hacker

Publisher: Sinauer Associates

Current Edition: Hardcover, 3rd Edition (March, 2014)

Pages: 596