Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions: Speciation--The Evolution of New Species

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9780198503934: Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions: Speciation--The Evolution of New Species
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The earth is home to a wild proliferation of species, millions of life-forms that come in a spectacular--and often bizarre--array of sizes, shapes, and colors. But what triggers this fantastic explosion of life? How does one species split into another? Even Charles Darwin was baffled before such questions, calling them "The Mystery of Mysteries."
In this fascinating, witty, and vividly written book, Menno Schilthuizen illuminates these questions, showing how biologists and zoologists over the last two centuries have responded to them, assessing our current knowledge of species, and proposing his own solution to Darwin's mystery. Using the sometimes-vicious academic debates and the powerful personalities of scientists as background, Schilthuizen explores the meandering path of species research and sets it out in the clearest possible terms. From looking at how we define a species, to exploring how geographical isolation and sexual selection contribute to making new species, to showing how species may appear gradually or instantaneously, Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions offers a comprehensive account of this evolutionary drama. Along the way, we get to know a remarkable cast of characters from the plant and animal kingdoms, from the copper-loving monkey flower to sockeye salmon, fire-bellied toads, lyrebirds, apple maggot flies, and many others. Most important, we get a clear picture of all the conditions necessary for one species to give birth to another.
Written with engaging panache, and illuminating an area of study intensely relevant to any assessment of the earth's biodiversity, Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions will appeal to everyone--scientist and layperson alike--curious about nature and animal behavior.

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About the Author:


Menno Schilthuizen is Associate Professor in the Tropical Biology and Conservation Unit, at the University Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabulu, Malaysia.

From Publishers Weekly:

Perhaps the most long-standing question in evolutionary biology concerns the origin of species. What are the environmental, evolutionary, genetic, geographical, behavioral or physiological conditions necessary for a species to split into two? Schilthuizen, professor of biology at the University of Malaysia Sabah in Malaysia, does a superb job of reviewing the voluminous scientific literature on this topic, distilling it to a manageable size and presenting it in a form that is both engaging and accessible for the nonspecialist. In addition to a good deal of natural history, from descriptions of the mating behaviors of fire-bellied toads to the differences between left- and right-handled snails, Schilthuizen provides an insider's perspective on both laboratory and field experiments. He analyzes in detail the controversy over whether populations must be geographically isolated from one another for new species to be formed, and he describes, with many interesting examples, the role that sexual selectionfemales choosing specific males with whom to matemight play in the speciation process. By including case studies from a wide range of organismsplants, birds, amphibians, fish and mammalshe demonstrates the breadth and vibrancy of his ideas. Although no technical background is required to grasp Schilthuizen's ideas, there is enough substance to engage those moderately knowledgeable about evolutionary biology. Illus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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9780198503927: Frogs Flies & Dandelions

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Publisher: Oxford University Press M.D., 2002
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