The Lives of Ants

The Lives of Ants

4.0 3
by Laurent Keller, Elisabeth Gordon
     
 

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Humans have long been fascinated by ants. While not necessarily brightly coloured or beautiful, ants display some remarkable characteristics that are almost unique in the animal world. They live in intricately organized societies, made up of individuals that cooperate, communicate, and divide up daily tasks. They display amazing ingenuity when it comes to building…  See more details below

Overview

Humans have long been fascinated by ants. While not necessarily brightly coloured or beautiful, ants display some remarkable characteristics that are almost unique in the animal world. They live in intricately organized societies, made up of individuals that cooperate, communicate, and divide up daily tasks. They display amazing ingenuity when it comes to building nests and other structures, finding supplies, or even exploiting other members of the animal kingdom. They are capable too of aggression and violence, of disturbing the apparent peace of their colonies and of sudden fratricidal or matricidal strife. In short, the lives of ants are among the most fascinating in the natural world. This is an account of those lives - looking at the many species of ants around the world, explaining the secret of their huge ecological success, examining the remarkable and varied behaviours that ants exhibit, and tying in molecular biology, genetics, and even cutting-edge developments in robotics, to shed light on what makes ants unique.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Science writer Gordon and ecology-evolution professor Keller (University of Lausanne) present a general-audience overview, short on jargon and long on storytelling, of Earth's most populous and successful genera. Keller and Gordon present ant life in 32 chapters, covering the vast expanse and variation of ant behavior, social structure, reproduction, genetics and ecology while highlighting their importance to ecosystems world-wide. Species of ants that nest underground are crucial for the aeration and nutrient content of soil; in the tropics, leafcutter ants feed leaves to underground fungi "farms," transferring nutrients from the rainforest canopy to depths of 15 feet below earth's surface. Even all-consuming hordes of army ants, marching across the plains of Africa, benefit the planet by creating a mobile ecosystem (flies and butterflies depend on their dung, birds and reptiles feast on both ants and their prey). Human intervention, meanwhile, has introduced species to new habitats, often with destructive results (fire ants in the southern United States, Argentine ants in Europe). Illuminating, entertaining and thought-provoking, without a hint of superiority, this witty species profile will appeal to general readers interested in alien animal kingdom behavior, and/or the effects of invasive species on economics and public health.
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From the Publisher

"This is a well-written and very engaging book that provides the reader with a scientific understanding along with a historial and philosophical appreciation of the world of ants and their importance to the balance of nature. The Lives of Ants is able to clearly explain to the expert and layperson alike the immensely interesting chemical-communication and social-order systems found within different species of ants. As a result the reader is left with an unending desire to learn more about these truly fascinating creatures."--The American Biology Teacher

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780191580079
Publisher:
OUP Oxford
Publication date:
02/26/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Laurent Keller is Professor of Ecology and Evolution, and Head of the Department of Ecology and Evolution, at the University of Lausanne. In 2005 he was awarded the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award.

Elisabeth Gordon is a freelance journalist and writer.

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The Lives of Ants 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
This little volume is an excellent introduction to the ants. The authors briefly summarize the great diversity of ant biology in short chapters which are quite interestingly written and accessible. While not a review of the literature, recent research is included in the presentations, so the information is up to date. Highly recommended as a first, serious look at ants.