It is now sixteen years since the third edition of this student textbook was published, and during this time advances in the field of marine biology have been many and varied. Continuing demand for the book has therefore led to this fourth, completely revised and updated edition. Developments in technology have been particularly rapid, especially in the fields of diving, precision instruments, satellite communications and computers, and these advances have greatly improved and expanded our ability to explore the oceans and their marine life. At the same time, the impact of man on the marine environment is ever increasing and cannot be ignored in any study of marine ecology. Therefore the chapters on 'Measuring and sampling' and 'Sea fisheries' have been extensively revised, and a new chapter on the 'Human impact on the marine environment' has been added. The aim of the latter is to introduce the student to the various ways in which our activities are changing the ecology of the oceans, with potentially far-reaching effects. Additional material on coral reefs, hydrothermal vents, phenomena such as 'El Nino' and ocean processes, including the important 'microbial loop' of the food web, have been incorporated into existing chapters.

Although the book has been extensively revised, this edition retains its original aim of presenting marine ecology as a coherent science and its scope derives from the original, broad definition of ecology as the study of organisms in relation to their surroundings. The text has been compiled as introductory reading for students undertaking courses in marine biology. It provides information and ideas over the general field of marine ecology with reading lists and references from which additional material can be sought. With the busy student in mind, the text has been re-arranged into clearly labelled and numbered sections. The field course book list in the appendices has been extensively revised and updated as have the references and student texts listed at the end of each chapter.

This new edition has been prepared by myself Dr Frances Dipper, with the guidance, help and unbounded enthusiasm of Ronald Tait. It was therefore with great sadness that I received the news of his untimely death last year. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends and by all those past students whom he has introduced to the fascination of the marine environment. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work on this new edition of his book.

Our thanks are due to our many colleagues who have provided us with helpful comments, material and encouragement throughout the preparation of this edition.

Frances Dipper

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