The Lives of Ants

The Lives of Ants

4.0 3
by Laurent Keller, Elisabeth Gordon
     
 

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They live in complex societies, they have a caste system, they go to war, they take slaves, they tend gardens. The parallels to our human societies have intrigued scientists and philosophers for centuries. The behaviour of ants and ant colonies has been studied by naturalists and ecologists. Now, with added insights from genetics and molecular biology, we begin to… See more details below

Overview

They live in complex societies, they have a caste system, they go to war, they take slaves, they tend gardens. The parallels to our human societies have intrigued scientists and philosophers for centuries. The behaviour of ants and ant colonies has been studied by naturalists and ecologists. Now, with added insights from genetics and molecular biology, we begin to understand what drives that behaviour. How can ants show such apparent loyalty to the colony, such social order, such organized belligerence? What causes the seething tensions in the family and the colony lurking under that seeming order? In this fascinating book, we discover the biology behind their behaviour, and how ant activity is inspiring computer programmers and the planners of large corporations. Welcome to the intimate and extraordinary world of the ant.

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

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