Why do we age? Why cooperate? Why do so many species engage in sex? Why do the tropics have so many species? When did humans start to affect world climate? This book provides an introduction to a range of fundamental questions that have taxed evolutionary biologists and ecologists for decades. Some of the phenomena discussed are, on first reflection, simply puzzling to understand from an evolutionary perspective, whilst others have direct implications for the future of the planet. All of the questions posed have at least a partial solution, all have seen exciting breakthroughs in recent years, yet many of the explanations continue to be hotly debated. Big Questions in Ecology and Evolution is a curiosity-driven book, written in an accessible way so as to appeal to a broad audience. It is very deliberately not a formal text book, but something designed to transmit the excitement and breadth of the field by discussing a number of major questions in ecology and evolution and how they have been answered. This is a book aimed at informing and inspiring anybody with an interest in ecology and evolution.
It reveals to the reader the immense scope of the field, its fundamental importance, and the exciting breakthroughs that have been made in recent years.
Prof. Tom Sherratt has authored and co-authored over 90 scientific publications in evolution and ecology, including several papers in Nature. Co-author of an earlier book for Oxford University Press on anti-predator defence, and an Associate Editor of The American Naturalist, Tom has a wide range of teaching and research interests, especially in entomology and evolutionary theory. Dr Dave Wilkinson has authored and co-authored over 80 scientific publications in biology, environmental science, archaeology and the history of science. He authored a previous award winning book for Oxford University Press,"Fundamental Processes in Ecology; an Earth systems approach". He has wide research and teaching interests in biology and environmental sciences.
Preface ; 1. Why do we age? ; 2. Why sex? ; 3. Why cooperate? ; 4. Why species? ; 5. Why are the tropics so diverse? ; 6. Is nature chaotic? ; 7. Why is the land green? ; 8. Why is the sea blue? ; 9. When did we start to change things? ; 10. How will biosphere end? ; 11. General Conclusions ; Species List ; Glossary ; Bibliography ; Subject Index