The Lives of Antsby Laurent Keller, Elisabeth Gordon
With numerous black-and-white images and eight pages of color plates, The Lives of Ants provides a state-of-the-art look at what we now know about these fascinating creatures, portraying a world that is rich and full of surprises, and still full of unsolved mysteries. The authors illuminate the world of the ant, shedding light on such topics as the ant's impressive
With numerous black-and-white images and eight pages of color plates, The Lives of Ants provides a state-of-the-art look at what we now know about these fascinating creatures, portraying a world that is rich and full of surprises, and still full of unsolved mysteries. The authors illuminate the world of the ant, shedding light on such topics as the ant's impressive abilities in direction finding and quite amazing ingenuity when it comes to building their nests, finding supplies, or exploiting other members of the animal kingdom. They show, too, that they are capable of aggression and violence, which can embroil entire colonies in fratricidal or matricidal war. Readers also discover that ants are walking bundles of secretory glands (they have about forty of them), which enable them to emit from ten to twenty different pheromones, each of which has its own "meaning." In addition, ants can emit sound signals, made of a high-pitched squeak, and they can even dance, though not as intricately or as well as bees.
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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- Oxford University Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
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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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.