Organisms and Environments

Published by: University of California Press

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Organisms and Environments

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A Bat Man in the Tropics

Chasing El Duende

Theodore Fleming

The euphoria of discovery is the only motivation many scientists need for studying nature and its secrets. Yet euphoria is rarely expressed in scientific publications. This book, a personal account of more than thirty years of fieldwork by one of the world’s leading bat biologists, wonderfully conveys the thrill of scientific discovery. Theodore Fleming’s work to document the lives and ecological importance of plant-visiting bats has taken him to the tropical forests of Panama, Costa Rica, and Australia, and to the lush Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico and Arizona. This book tells the story of his fascinating career and recounts his many adventures in the field.

Fleming weaves autobiographical reflections together with information on the natural history and ecology of bats and describes many other animals and plants he has encountered. His book details the stresses and rewards of life in scientific field camps, gives portraits of prominent biologists such as Dan Janzen and Peter Raven, and traces the development of modern tropical biology. A witness to the destruction and development of many of the forests he has visited throughout his career, Fleming makes a passionate plea for the conservation of these wild places.

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Evolution's Wedge

Competition and the Origins of Diversity

David Pfennig

Evolutionary biology has long sought to explain how new traits and new species arise. Darwin maintained that competition is key to understanding this biodiversity and held that selection acting to minimize competition causes competitors to become increasingly different, thereby promoting new traits and new species. Despite Darwin’s emphasis, competition’s role in diversification remains controversial and largely underappreciated.

In their synthetic and provocative book, evolutionary ecologists David and Karin Pfennig explore competition's role in generating and maintaining biodiversity. The authors discuss how selection can lessen resource competition or costly reproductive interactions by promoting trait evolution through a process known as character displacement. They further describe character displacement’s underlying genetic and developmental mechanisms. The authors then consider character displacement’s myriad downstream effects, ranging from shaping ecological communities to promoting new traits and new species and even fueling large-scale evolutionary trends. Drawing on numerous studies from natural populations, and written for a broad audience, Evolution’s Wedge seeks to inspire future research into character displacement’s many implications for ecology and evolution.

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Grass

In Search of Human Habitat

Joe C. Truett

Part autobiography, part philosophical rumination, this evocative conservation odyssey explores the deep affinities between humans and our original habitat: grasslands. In a richly drawn, anecdotally driven narrative, Joe C. Truett, a grasslands ecologist who writes with a flair for language, traces the evolutionary, historical, and cultural forces that have reshaped North American rangelands over the past two centuries. He introduces an intriguing cast of characters—wildlife and grasslands biologists, archaeologists, ranchers, and petroleum geologists—to illuminate a wide range of related topics: our love affair with turf and how it manifests in lawns and sports, the ecological and economic dimensions of ranching, the glory of cowboy culture, grasslands and restoration ecology, and more. His book ultimately provides the background against which we can envision a new paradigm for restoring rangeland ecosystems—and a new paradigm for envisioning a more sustainable future.

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Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree

Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles

Jonathan Losos

Adaptive radiation, which results when a single ancestral species gives rise to many descendants, each adapted to a different part of the environment, is possibly the single most important source of biological diversity in the living world. One of the best-studied examples involves Caribbean Anolis lizards. With about 400 species, Anolis has played an important role in the development of ecological theory and has become a model system exemplifying the integration of ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral studies to understand evolutionary diversification. This major work, written by one of the best-known investigators of Anolis, reviews and synthesizes an immense literature. Jonathan B. Losos illustrates how different scientific approaches to the questions of adaptation and diversification can be integrated and examines evolutionary and ecological questions of interest to a broad range of biologists.

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