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In this revised edition of Herpetology, the authors provide the only treatment of amphibians and reptiles that integrates information about evolutionary relationships with ecology, behavior, and physiology and provide up-to-date references to the primary literature. KEY TOPICS The book is broken down into four parts and explores these specific questions: what are amphibians and reptiles; how do they work; what do they do; and what are their prospects for survival. MARKET This book is ideal for professionals such as zoo and aquarium curators, animal keepers, reptile and amphibian hobbyists, wildlife managers and conservationists who are looking for an integrated approach to the ecology, behavior, morphology, and physiology of amphibians and reptiles, presented in a phylogenetic and organismal context.
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Amphibians and reptiles are successful organisms that represent an approach to terrestrial vertebrate life quite different from that adopted by birds and mammals. The internal processes of amphibians and reptiles differ in many respects from the corresponding processes in birds and mammals, and amphibians and reptiles function differently from birds and mammals in communities and ecosystems. Understanding how and why amphibians and reptiles differ from birds and mammals enriches a biological education, and the study of herpetology is a great deal more than just the study of amphibians and reptiles.
In our view, understanding amphibians and reptiles as organisms requires a perspective that integrates their morphology, physiology, behavior, and ecology and places that information in a phylogenetic context. This book does that—it presents the biology of amphibians and reptiles as the product of phylogenetic history and environmental influences acting in both ecological and evolutionary time. We emphasize how amphibians and reptiles function in the broadest sense. For example, ectothermal temperature regulation is reflected in nearly every aspect of the biology of amphibians and reptiles, from their body shapes (extremely small body size and elongate body shape are feasible only for ectotherms) to their role in ecosystems (low energy flow and high conversion efficiency are the result of ectothermy).
We have emphasized the integration of information from different biological specialties to produce a picture of amphibians and reptiles as animals that do remarkable things and play important roles in modern ecosystems. Evolution provides the context in which the distinctive characteristics of amphibians and reptiles must be evaluated, and both ancestral and derived features are central to an understanding of their biology. Throughout the book we have emphasized the use of phylogenetic information to understand the evolution of ecological, behavioral, and physiological characters.
In this edition we have incorporated important recent work in all areas of herpetology, and provided an increased number of references to the original literature. Phylogenetic treatments have been revised to reflect changes in our understanding of the evolution of amphibians and reptiles, especially the origin of Lissamphibia, the position of turtles within Diapsida, the status of the Iguanidae, and new ideas about snake evolution. In addition, we have added synapomorphies to the cladograms and revised the distribution maps.
We have expanded the discussion of the structure of the skin of amphibians and reptiles, added a section on HOX genes and the evolution of limblessness, and provided additional material about the embryonic development of reptiles and the ecology of tadpoles. We have incorporated new information into the treatment of the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, expanded the treatment of gliding as a form of locomotion, and provided new information about conservation and especially about the worldwide problem of vanishing amphibians.
Collaboration by the six authors—whose research specializations include autecology, synecology, systematics, evolution, morphology, physiology, and behavior—has produced a treatment that interweaves these specialties. We find the interrelationships among different levels of biological organization fascinating and have tried to build students' understanding of these relationships from chapter to chapter. In the case of lizards, for example, one or more aspects of the intricate correlations among phylogeny, foraging mode, diet, morphology, exercise physiology, predator avoidance, social system, and reproductive mode is discussed in nearly every chapter. We have used this technique of building topics chapter by chapter in the hope that students will find the complex relationships that emerge intellectually stimulating. Above all, this book is the product of the lifelong fascination each of us has felt for the animals we study. We hope we will succeed in conveying our sense of excitement to readers.
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