Short works

Books : reviews

Martin A. Nowak, Robert M. May.
Virus Dynamics: mathematical principles of immunology and virology.
OUP. 2000

The molecular structure of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is known down to the tiniest details. Yet despite this tremendous accomplishment, and other remarkable advances in our understanding of individual viruses and cells of the immune system, there is still no clear model to explain the ultimate course and variability of the pathogenesis of AIDS. Such gaps in our understanding prevent the development of effective therapies and vaccines.

In this accessible and well-written text, Martin Nowak and Robert May describe the emerging field of theoretical immunology. Using mathematical and computational models, the authors explore how populations of viruses and immune cells interact in various circumstances, and how infectious diseases spread within patients.

Virus dynamics is structured around the examples of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B virus, although the approaches described are more widely applicable. The authors use mathematical tools to uncover the detailed dynamics of viral infection and the effects of antiviral therapy. Models are developed to describe the emergence of drug resistance, and the dynamics of immune responses, viral evolution, and mutation. The practical implications of this work for optimization of the design of therapy and vaccines are discussed. The book concludes with future prospects of this fascinating and highly useful field of study.

Robert M. May, Angela McLean.
Theoretical Ecology: principles and applications: 3rd edn.
OUP. 2007

Robert May’s seminal book has played a central role in the development of ecological science. Originally published in 1976, this influential text has overseen the transition of ecology from an observational and descriptive subject to one with a solid conceptual core. Indeed, it is a testament to its influence that a great deal of the novel material presented in the earlier editions has now been incorporated into standard undergraduate textbooks. It is now a quarter of a century since the publication of the second edition, and a thorough revision is timely. Theoretical Ecology provides a succinct, up-to-date overview of the field set in the context of applications, thereby bridging the traditional division of theory and practice. It describes the recent advances in our understanding of how interacting populations of plants and animals change over time and space, in response to natural or human-created disturbance. In an integrated way, initial chapters give an account of the basic principles governing the structure, function, and temporal and spatial dynamics of populations and communities of plants and animals. Later chapters outline applications of these ideas to practical issues including fisheries, infectious diseases, tomorrow’s food supplies, climate change, and conservation biology. Throughout the book, emphasis is placed on questions which as yet remain unanswered.

The editors have invited the top scientists in the field to collaborate with the next generation of theoretical ecologists. The result is an accessible, advanced textbook suitable for senior undergraduate and graduate level students as well as researchers in the fields of ecology, mathematical biology, environment and resources management. It will also be of interest to the general reader seeking a better understanding of a range of global environmental problems.