The Lives of Ants

Laurent Keller, Author, Elisabeth Gordon, Author, James Grieve, Translator Oxford University Press, USA $27.95 (252p) ISBN 978-0-19-954186-7
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.
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Show other formats
Book - 273 pages - 978-0-19-156759-9
Open Ebook - 252 pages - 978-1-282-12615-2
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-19-954187-4
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