Biotic Crises in Ecological and Evolutionary Time emerged from the third Field Museum Spring Systematic Symposium held in May 1980. The symposium attempted to explore the nature and effects of crisis over as wide a range of temporal and spatial scales as possible. To this end, contributions were included from such diverse fields as astronomy, paleobiology, ecology, and anthropology. The kinds of crises considered ranged from events in the cosmological history of the universe all the way to the effects of a single introduced species on a present-day living community.
The book begins by providing a definition of ""crisis"" and a general discussion of methods and approaches to the study of crises. The subsequent chapters present studies on topics such as the physical mechanisms underlying the cosmological framework in which life evolved; physical disturbance in the life of plants; the impact of species introductions; and evolutionary aspects of pre- and post-interchange fossil land mammal faunas in South America.