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Writing in the tradition of E. O. Wilson and Margaret D. Lowman, Avise recounts his scientific adventures with many animals in the wild and reflects more widely on the artistry of scientific discovery and the allure of the natural world. His story conveys as much about the making of a scientist as it does about the inner workings of science and nature.
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In this satisfying autobiography cum scientific monograph, Avise (Phylogeography) details his intellectual evolution. He convincingly conveys how his dual passion for natural history and genetics sprang from a Michigan boyhood, with summers spent at his grandparents' homestead on Ice Lake, where his love for the natural world first flowered, to his sterling academic career at the Universities of Michigan and Texas, to field and laboratory research. While most other biologists have been confined to one or the other discipline, the author moves with wonder through these two realms, illuminating each with insights from the other. Along the way, he treats the reader to adventures with creatures from aquatic insects and blind cave fish to gophers. No less compelling are the writer's laboratory-bound studies of genetics and DNA. The latter may be dense for the lay reader, but these sections are redeemed by his jargon-free anecdotes of life in the field and underwater. The whole story is enlivened and humanized by Avise's biographical reference points. We clearly see the roots of the sophisticated scientist in the lab coat in the north-country boy with his bamboo pole and worms, angling for perch. On occasion the author's ego obscures his sturdy prose, though these lapses are overcome by guileless confessions of personal and professional faults. Illus. Photos.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.From Library Journal:
Most newspapers and magazines regularly run articles about the use of new genetic tools for the improvement of healthcare, so it is refreshing to find a book that covers other applications. Avise (genetics, Univ. of Georgia) discovered early in his career that biochemical tests could help answer questions about population biology and the natural history of animals. He and his students have studied gophers, fish, green sea turtles, nine-banded armadillos, and horseshoe crabs using field studies and protein- and DNA-testing to discover how species are related and to learn about their evolution and dispersal. Despite the interesting subject and the lessons about cooperation among different branches of science, this book does not fully explain all the science involved. As in his previous book, Genetic Gods, Avise uses ecological and genetic terms without defining them, making it hard for lay readers to understand the significance of the research. Margaret D. Lowman's Life in the Treetops (LJ 5/15/99), for example, offers a more readable account of genetics fieldwork for the general reader. Recommended for academic libraries. Margaret Henderson, Cold Spring Harbor Lab., NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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