Biology by Numbers: An Encouragement to Quantitative Thinking

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Biology students are notoriously reluctant to use mathematics, yet a simple grasp of numbers reveals real insights into a whole range of biological phenomena. In this introductory text Richard Burton fosters a sense of the importance of maths to biology using a wealth of examples while assuming minimal maths ability. Questions and calculations encourage active participation, and the structure shows how the same reasoning aids the understanding of a range of biological problems. Aimed at beginning undergraduates but of great value to all the number-shy, including graduate students.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As a gentle introduction to mathematics for the numerically phobic biology undergraduate, Richard Burton's Biology by Numbers could hardly be bettered. Well-chosen examples take the agony out of algorithms and the confusion out of calculus." New Scientist

"...Burton's book is a cornucopia of such succulent biological fruits as the snail albumin gland, grazers on grasslands, sodium in the diets of moose, and the allometries of stag beetles. Taken in a single serving, it makes for a very rich diet. The book is designed to attract two types of readers: the mathematically inclined who seek an introduction to biological problems, and the mathematically timid who sense a need to use quantitative methods to make sense of biology." Fred Adler, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521571562
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

A guide to the book
1 Putting two and the two together 1
2 Units, formulae and the use of old envelopes: confronting some obstacles to quantitative thinking 23
3 Aspects of energy metabolism 44
4 Getting things in proportion 51
5 Perilous percentages, dangerous rations 61
6 Building a trophic pyramid 69
7 Sodium in animals and plants 81
8 Exchanges of water and carbon dioxide 87
9 A geometric series 100
10 Introduction to logarithms 108
11 Bringing logarithms to life 113
12 Exponential relationships 124
13 Aspects of allometry 133
14 More and allometry, and on quantitative patterns in nature 157
15 How the abundance of food affects rates of feeding 189
16 The characterization of trees and other branching systems 199
17 Epilogue 205
References 217
Notes 224
Index 233
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