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Using Probability to Explore Nature
Life is a chancy proposition: from the movement of molecules to the age at which we die, chance plays a key role in the natural world. Traditionally, biologists have viewed the inevitable "noise" of life as an unfortunate complication. The authors of this book, however, treat random processes as a benefit. In this introduction to chance in biology, Mark Denny and Steven Gaines help readers to apply the probability theory needed to make sense of chance events--using examples from ocean waves to spiderwebs, in fields ranging from molecular mechanics to evolution.
Through the application of probability theory, Denny and Gaines make predictions about how plants and animals work in a stochastic universe. Is it possible to pack a variety of ion channels into a cell membrane and have each operate at near-peak flow? Why are our arteries rubbery? The concept of a random walk provides the necessary insight. Is there an absolute upper limit to human life span? Could the sound of a cocktail party burst your eardrums? The statistics of extremes allows us to make the appropriate calculations. How long must you wait to see the detail in a moonlit landscape? Can you hear the noise of individual molecules? The authors provide answers to these and many other questions.
After an introduction to the basic statistical methods to be used in this book, the authors emphasize the application of probability theory to biology rather than the details of the theory itself. Readers with an introductory background in calculus will be able to follow the reasoning, and sets of problems, together with their solutions, are offered to reinforce concepts. The use of real-world examples, numerous illustrations, and chapter summaries--all presented with clarity and wit--make for a highly accessible text. By relating the theory of probability to the understanding of form and function in living things, the authors seek to pique the reader's curiosity about statistics and provide a new perspective on the role of chance in biology.
Archaeozoology at Pantanello and Five Other Sites
From 1974 to the present, the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas at Austin has carried out archaeological excavations in the ancient territory (chora) of Metaponto, now located in the modern province of Basilicata on the southern coast of Italy. This wide-ranging investigation, which covers a number of sites and a time period ranging from prehistory to the Roman Empire, has unearthed a wealth of new information about the ancient rural economy in southern Italy. These discoveries will be published in a multi-volume series titled The Chora of Metaponto. This volume on archaeozoology—the study of animal remains from archaeological sites—is the second in the series, following The Chora of Metaponto: The Necropoleis (1998). Archaeozoology at Pantanello and Five Other Sites describes the animal remains found throughout Metaponto and discusses what they reveal about ancient practices of hunting and herding, domestication and importation of new breeds, people’s attitudes toward animals, and what animal remains indicate about past environments. A chapter devoted to bird bones, which are a relatively rare find because of their fragility, provides high quality information on the environment and methods of fowling, as well as on the beliefs and symbolism associated with birds. The final chapter covers tools—some simple, others sophisticated and richly decorated—made from animal bones.
Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge
Alfred C. Kinsey’s revolutionary studies of human sexual behavior are world-renowned. His meticulous methods of data collection, from comprehensive entomological assemblies to personal sex history interviews, raised the bar for empirical evidence to an entirely new level. In The Classification of Sex, Donna J. Drucker presents an original analysis of Kinsey’s scientific career in order to uncover the roots of his research methods. She describes how his enduring interest as an entomologist and biologist in the compilation and organization of mass data sets structured each of his classification projects. As Drucker shows, Kinsey’s lifelong mission was to find scientific truth in numbers and through observation—and to record without prejudice in the spirit of a true taxonomist. Kinsey’s doctoral work included extensive research of the gall wasp, where he gathered and recorded variations in over six million specimens. His classification and reclassification of Cynips led to the speciation of the genus that remains today. During his graduate training, Kinsey developed a strong interest in evolution and the links between entomological and human behavior studies. In 1920, he joined Indiana University as a professor in zoology, and soon published an introductory text on biology, followed by a coauthored field guide to edible wild plants. In 1938, Kinsey began teaching a noncredit course on marriage, where he openly discussed sexual behavior and espoused equal opportunity for orgasmic satisfaction in marital relationships. Soon after, he began gathering case histories of sexual behavior. As a pioneer in the nascent field of sexology, Kinsey saw that the key to its cogency was grounded in observation combined with the collection and classification of mass data. To support the institutionalization of his work, he cofounded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University in 1947. He and his staff eventually conducted over eighteen thousand personal interviews about sexual behavior, and in 1948 he published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, to be followed in 1953 by Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. As Drucker’s study shows, Kinsey’s scientific rigor and his early use of data recording methods and observational studies were unparalleled in his field. Those practices shaped his entire career and produced a wellspring of new information, whether he was studying gall wasp wings, writing biology textbooks, tracing patterns of evolution, or developing a universal theory of human sexuality.
Ecology, Behavior, and Natural History
The cockroach is truly an evolutionary wonder. This definitive volume provides a complete overview of suborder Blattaria, highlighting the diversity of these amazing insects in their natural environments. Beginning with a foreword by E. O. Wilson, the book explores the fascinating natural history and behavior of cockroaches, describing their various colors, sizes, and shapes, as well as how they move on land, in water, and through the air. In addition to habitat use, diet, reproduction, and behavior, Cockroaches covers aspects of cockroach biology, such as the relationship between cockroaches and microbes, termites as social cockroaches, and the ecological impact of the suborder. With over 100 illustrations, an expanded glossary, and an invaluable set of references, this work is destined to become the classic book on the Blattaria. Students and research entomologists can mine each chapter for new ideas, new perspectives, and new directions for future study.
Fish travel in schools, birds migrate in flocks, honeybees swarm, and ants build trails. How and why do these collective behaviors occur? Exploring how coordinated group patterns emerge from individual interactions, Collective Animal Behavior reveals why animals produce group behaviors and examines their evolution across a range of species.
Providing a synthesis of mathematical modeling, theoretical biology, and experimental work, David Sumpter investigates how animals move and arrive together, how they transfer information, how they make decisions and synchronize their activities, and how they build collective structures. Sumpter constructs a unified appreciation of how different group-living species coordinate their behaviors and why natural selection has produced these groups. For the first time, the book combines traditional approaches to behavioral ecology with ideas about self-organization and complex systems from physics and mathematics. Sumpter offers a guide for working with key models in this area along with case studies of their application, and he shows how ideas about animal behavior can be applied to understanding human social behavior.
Containing a wealth of accessible examples as well as qualitative and quantitative features, Collective Animal Behavior will interest behavioral ecologists and all scientists studying complex systems.
Spiders are among the most diverse groups of terrestrial invertebrates, yet they are among the least studied and understood. This first comprehensive guide to all 68 spider families in North America beautifully illustrates 469 of the most commonly encountered species. Group keys enable identification by web type and other observable details, and species descriptions include identification tips, typical habitat, geographic distribution, and behavioral notes. A concise illustrated introduction to spider biology and anatomy explains spider relationships. This book is a critical resource for curious naturalists who want to understand this ubiquitous and ecologically critical component of our biosphere.
Linking the Aboveground and Belowground Components (MPB-34)
Most of the earth's terrestrial species live in the soil. These organisms, which include many thousands of species of fungi and nematodes, shape aboveground plant and animal life as well as our climate and atmosphere. Indeed, all terrestrial ecosystems consist of interdependent aboveground and belowground compartments. Despite this, aboveground and belowground ecology have been conducted largely in isolation. This book represents the first major synthesis to focus explicitly on the connections between aboveground and belowground subsystems--and their importance for community structure and ecosystem functioning.
David Wardle integrates a vast body of literature from numerous fields--including population ecology, ecosystem ecology, ecophysiology, ecological theory, soil science, and global-change biology--to explain the key conceptual issues relating to how aboveground and belowground communities affect one another and the processes that each component carries out. He then applies these concepts to a host of critical questions, including the regulation and function of biodiversity as well as the consequences of human-induced global change in the form of biological invasions, extinctions, atmospheric carbon-dioxide enrichment, nitrogen deposition, land-use change, and global warming.
Through ambitious theoretical synthesis and a tremendous range of examples, Wardle shows that the key biotic drivers of community and ecosystem properties involve linkages between aboveground and belowground food webs, biotic interaction, the spatial and temporal dynamics of component organisms, and, ultimately, the ecophysiological traits of those organisms that emerge as ecological drivers. His conclusions will propel theoretical and empirical work throughout ecology.
A Theoretical/Empirical Synthesis (MPB-35)
Why do organisms become extremely abundant one year and then seem to disappear a few years later? Why do population outbreaks in particular species happen more or less regularly in certain locations, but only irregularly (or never at all) in other locations? Complex population dynamics have fascinated biologists for decades. By bringing together mathematical models, statistical analyses, and field experiments, this book offers a comprehensive new synthesis of the theory of population oscillations.
Peter Turchin first reviews the conceptual tools that ecologists use to investigate population oscillations, introducing population modeling and the statistical analysis of time series data. He then provides an in-depth discussion of several case studies--including the larch budmoth, southern pine beetle, red grouse, voles and lemmings, snowshoe hare, and ungulates--to develop a new analysis of the mechanisms that drive population oscillations in nature. Through such work, the author argues, ecologists can develop general laws of population dynamics that will help turn ecology into a truly quantitative and predictive science.
Complex Population Dynamics integrates theoretical and empirical studies into a major new synthesis of current knowledge about population dynamics. It is also a pioneering work that sets the course for ecology's future as a predictive science.
Thoughts on the Public Display of Plastinated Corpses
Controversial, fascinating, disturbing, and often beautiful, plastinated human bodies—such as those found at Body Worlds exhibitions throughout the world—have gripped the public's imagination. These displays have been lauded as educational, sparked protests, and drawn millions of visitors. This book looks at the powerful sway these corpses hold over their living audiences everywhere. Plastination was invented in the 1970s by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens. The process transforms living tissues into moldable plastic that can then be hardened into a permanent shape. Von Hagens first exhibited his expertly dissected, artfully posed plastinated bodies in Japan in 1995. Since then, his shows have continuously attracted so many paying customers that they have inspired imitators, brought accusations of unethical or even illegal behavior, and ignited vigorous debates among scientists, educators, religious leaders, and law enforcement officials. These lively, thought-provoking, and sometimes personal essays reflect on such public displays from ethical, legal, cultural, religious, pedagogical, and aesthetic perspectives. They examine what lies behind the exhibitions' popularity and explore the ramifications of turning corpses into a spectacle of amusement. Contributions from bioethicists, historians, physicians, anatomists, theologians, and novelists dig deeply into issues that compel, upset, and unsettle us all.