Fragile Web: What Next for Nature?

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Overview

Biodiversity is as close as your breakfast table. Your cereal and coffee are the products of at least a dozen species of plants and animals. And believe it or not, you are related to your morning meal—all life on earth is descended from a common ancestor, giving new meaning to the old saying “You are what you eat.”

            Making clear why the future of biodiversity matters, Fragile Web—which takes its name from the delicate mechanism that holds all life together—unites a team of international experts to explore the wonder of the natural world. Drawing on the very latest research, the book explains what biodiversity is and explores its evolution, from 3.5 billion years ago to the present day. It discusses the importance of the world’s ecosystems and how directly or indirectly humans are responsible for the fate of nature. Crucially, it also examines what can be done to protect the natural world and why it matters. Although we cannot undo all that we have done, ignoring the current crisis facing biodiversity could fundamentally change the lives of future generations.

Fully illustrated with color photographs, diagrams, and maps, and edited by celebrated ecologist Jonathan Silvertown, this book is a timely snapshot of the state of life on Earth. From the plant and animal products that make up our breakfast to the ecosystems that help to produce clean water, our very survival depends upon the variety of plant and animal life on our planet. The year 2010 has been declared by the United Nations the International Year of Biodiversity, and The Fragile Web will be an essential guidebook for our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
The authors do an excellent job making the complex topics of evolution, biodiversity, and ecology accessible to a wide readership. . . . It is rare to find a volume that presents these complex topics in a way that the general public can easily digest. This book hits that target. . . . Highly recommended.”

— D. Goldblum

Choice - D. Goldblum
“The authors do an excellent job making the complex topics of evolution, biodiversity, and ecology accessible to a wide readership. . . . It is rare to find a volume that presents these complex topics in a way that the general public can easily digest. This book hits that target. . . . Highly recommended.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226757810
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 8/14/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Silvertown is professor of ecology at the Open University, Milton Keynes, and the author of An Orchard Invisible and Demons in Eden and editor of 99% Ape, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 4

Origins Of Biodiversity

Chapter 1 Biodiversity And Us 7

Chapter 2 We's Long And Chequered Career 17

Chapter 3 Evolution's Atlas 31

Chapter 4 What Is A Species? 43

Chapter 5 Genes, Genes, Genes 57

Ecology - Function

Chapter 6 The Web Of Nature 67

Chapter 7 What Has Biodiversity Ever Done For Us? 77

Chapter 8 Valued Landscapes 87

Chapter 9 Nature In The City 97

Chapter 10 We In Freshwater 107

Fate - Threats And Solutions

Chapter 11 Going, Going, Gone: The Sixth Extinction 117

Chapter 12 The Exhaustible Sea 131

Chapter 13 Climate Change 143

Chapter 14 Invasion Planet Earth 155

Chapter 15 What Next For Nature? 167

Glossary 180

Sources 182

Index 189

Picture Credits 191

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