The Life of David Lack: Father of Evolutionary Ecology

The Life of David Lack: Father of Evolutionary Ecology

by Ted Anderson
     
 

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Most people who have taken a biology course in the past 50 years are familiar with the work of David Lack, but few remember his name. Almost all general biology texts produced during that period have a figure showing the beak size differences among the finches of the Galapagos Islands from Lack's 1947 classic, Darwin's Finches. Lack's pioneering conclusions in

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Overview

Most people who have taken a biology course in the past 50 years are familiar with the work of David Lack, but few remember his name. Almost all general biology texts produced during that period have a figure showing the beak size differences among the finches of the Galapagos Islands from Lack's 1947 classic, Darwin's Finches. Lack's pioneering conclusions in Darwin's Finches mark the beginning of a new scientific discipline, evolutionary ecology. Tim Birkhead, in his acclaimed book, The Wisdom of Birds, calls Lack the 'hero of modern ornithology.' Who was this influential, yet relatively unknown man? The Life of David Lack, Father of Evolutionary Ecology provides an answer to that question based on Ted Anderson's personal interviews with colleagues, family members and former students as well as material in the extensive Lack Archive at Oxford University.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As Ted Anderson shows in his charming and very readable biography, Lack's argument, which developed slowly, was that differences in the way populations adapt to and compete for local resources (such as seeds, in the case of finches) is a key part of the process of speciation...Anderson gives us a vivid portrait of Lack and the personalities and careers of many people he interacted with." — Ben C. Sheldon, Nature

One of Teaching Biology's Top 25 Popular History of Science Books

"Ted Anderson ... has written an excellent and fascinating account of the life and work of perhaps the most influential ornithologist and evolutionist of the 20th century." —British Trust for Ornithology News

"At its best, the book provides intimate glimpses into Lack's character and personality. ... Evolutionary ecologists may ... find this to be an accessible introduction to the diverse origins of their field, an area of increasing interest among historians and philosophers of the life sciences." —Quarterly Review of Biology

Featured in Ardea, the journal of the Dutch Ornithological Society.

"Overall, this is a most splendid addition to our understanding of an important 20th-century scientist and how his scientific work fundamentally shaped our understanding of ecology, evolution, and behavior in the second half of the 20th-century. It will prove useful to anyone interested in the history of 20th-century biology and especially to those of us wishing a fuller picture of the history of ecology and evolutionary biology as well as the origins of avian biology." —Ecology

"Anderson has done an excellent job of collecting information on David Lack's life, and the short book is packed with interesting detail. The Life of David Lack is a welcome addition to the literature on the history of evolution, and it will be of interest to all of those who teach about evolution in their classes." —Reports of the National Center for Science Education

"[A] sensitive and very readable appreciation of a great scientist." —Ibis

"Anderson has provided a fine and eminently readable tribute to a highly productive ecologist." —Scottish Birds

"This book was a delight to read, and is warmly recommended to anyone interested in the life story of one of Britain's greatest ornithologists and his central role in the development of field ornithology in Britain during the middle of the twentieth century." —British Birds

"[I]t was Lack's books that really made him so successful... This biography is a particularly useful introduction to each of those books and is a treasure trove of information about the life of the man who wrote them." —Archives of Natural History

"[A]n interesting and well-written book." —The Wilson Journal of Ornithology

"Anderson has written an entertaining and informative account of one of the leading biologists of the twentieth century; it will undoubtedly be read widely by ornithologists and animal ecologists whose science was significantly influenced by the middle-class Englishman who was fascinated by birds." —Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199922642
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
07/01/2013
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Ted R. Anderson is Emeritus Professor of Biology at McKendree University. Professor Anderson is the author of Biology of the Ubiquitous House Sparrow: From Genes to Populations (OUP 2006). He is retired and lives with his wife, Carol, in Kingston, Washington.

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