Threads from the Web of Life: Stories in Natural History

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A Selection of the Discovery Channel Book Club

In sixteen stories Steve Daubert pulls the reader into the mystery and immediacy of ecological processes spanning a range from microscopic to tectonic, from microscopic to cosmic forces. Each tale brings the reader into the moment to witness an episode of survival in the wild first-hand. The material is presented on a level of intimacy and detail not usually encountered in other styles of natural history writing.

These creative non-fiction stories provide not just a bird's eye view (though that's true for the owls, warblers, condors, and hummingbirds in the book), but a wasp's eye view, a mouse's, a sea turtle's, a squid's. Sometimes the focus is as small as the detritus on the forest floor, or a single beat of the wing of a gull. Other stories range across evolutionary time. From whales and dinosaurs to creatures invisible to the naked eye, author and illustrator bring to life the dynamic interplay of living, evolving creatures and the natural forces that have shaped their worlds.

The book includes chapter notes that document the scientific basis for each story and describe the controversies still surrounding some of them -- a splendid resource for families to read and share.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Each of these happenings is a thread in the intricate web of life, and Daubert, a molecular scientist at the University of California, Davis, demonstrates that these threads are easily broken by humans . . . instructive and entertaining . . .
--Publishers Weekly

Threads from the Web of Life takes readers on a journey around the globe as the author describes unique and unusual ecological processes. It is ideal for casual reading as well as a source of selections to read aloud (!) or to link literature with the study of natural history.
--NSTA [National Science Teachers Association] Recommends

Highly recommended . . . The stories are as much enjoyable as they are informative.
--Science Books & Films

Publishers Weekly
Daubert illustrates 16 ecological processes with lively narratives in which he envisions how it might feel to be at the center of the action: for example, traveling with a green sea turtle from its feeding grounds in Brazil to its nesting beaches 2,000 kilometers away on Ascension Island in the eastern Atlantic; riding whirling air currents with migrating American white pelicans; or fleeing from a predator swordfish with a school of neon flying squid. Some of the tales cover evolutionary events taking place over millions of years, such as the account of the tarweed plant that five million years ago made an ocean voyage from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Hawaiian archipelago, where it metamorphosed into the silver sword plant. Each of these happenings is a thread in the intricate web of life, and Daubert, a molecular scientist at the University of California, Davis, demonstrates that these threads are easily broken by humans, as when overkill by commercial whalers depletes a food source for creatures that feed on whale carcasses. His natural history tales are instructive and entertaining, and each is followed by an annotation explaining the science behind it. Illus. not seen by PW. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826515094
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

The book is the result of an unusual collaboration between two brothers, one an "artistic scientist," the other a "scientific artist." Stephen Daubert has pursued science on the molecular level for thirty years at the University of California, Davis. His brother Chris Daubert is Professor of Art at Sacramento City College.
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Reading Group Guide

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    You have got to read this!

    I really enjoyed this book. The author is very descriptive and each chapter was really short. I loved the pictures and the writing equally well. I recommend it to students and adults alike, especially to those whom like environmental studies. This book is a very quick read, I read it in the afternoon.

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