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The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe. Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world—they are not, indeed, unique to our species. The Accidental Species combines Gee’s firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution—the key is not what’s missing, but how we’re linked.
Urban Ecology is a rapidly growing field of academic and practical significance. Urban ecologists have published several conference proceedings and regularly contribute to the ecological, architectural, planning, and geography literature. However, important papers in the field that set the foundation for the discipline and illustrate modern approaches from a variety of perspectives and regions of the world have not been collected in a single, accessible book. Foundations of Urban Ecology does this by reprinting important European and American publications, filling gaps in the published literature with a few, targeted original works, and translating key works originally published in German. This edited volume will provide students and professionals with a rich background in all facets of urban ecology. The editors emphasize the drivers, patterns, processes and effects of human settlement. The papers they synthesize provide readers with a broad understanding of the local and global aspects of settlement through traditional natural and social science lenses. This interdisciplinary vision gives the reader a comprehensive view of the urban ecosystem by introducing drivers, patterns, processes and effects of human settlements and the relationships between humans and other animals, plants, ecosystem processes, and abiotic conditions. The reader learns how human institutions, health, and preferences influence, and are influenced by, the others members of their shared urban ecosystem.
From one of America’s best-known biologists, a revolutionary new way of thinking about evolution that shows “why, in light of our origins, humans are still special” (Edward J. Larson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evolution). Once we had a special place in the hierarchy of life on Earth—a place confirmed by the literature and traditions of every human tribe. But then the theory of evolution arrived to shake the tree of human understanding to its roots. To many of the most passionate advocates for Darwin’s theory, we are just one species among multitudes, no more significant than any other. Even our minds are not our own, they tell us, but living machines programmed for nothing but survival and reproduction. In The Human Instinct, Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller “confronts both lay and professional misconceptions about evolution” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), showing that while evolution explains how our bodies and brains were shaped, that heritage does not limit or predetermine human behavior. In fact, Miller argues in this “highly recommended” (Forbes) work that it is only thanks to evolution that we have the power to shape our destiny. Equal parts natural science and philosophy, The Human Instinct makes an “absorbing, lucid, and engaging…case that it was evolution that gave us our humanity” (Ursula Goodenough, professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis).
The book presents an analysis of the ecological, economic and social threats posed by the introduction and spread of non-native species. It provides a comprehensive description of impacts of non-native species from all five kingdoms of life across all ecosystems of the world. New insights into the impacts arising from biological invasions are generated through taking an ecosystem services perspective. This work highlights that management of biological invasions is needed not only to sustain biodiversity and the environment, but also to safeguard productive sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as to preserve human health and well-being.
The invasive species problem will become increasingly important in the years to come. Trade, travel and tourism are rapidly globalized, and border controls are reduced. This affects natural ecosystems in which aggressive invaders may have disastrous effects. `New' diseases affect human, animal and crop health. The Convention on Biological Diversity presents national authorities with a tall order in coping with this problem. For the first time in one volume, this book presents both ecological, biological and epidemiological aspects of invasive species, as well as the problem of disease organisms for agriculture and human health. The book constitutes a comprehensive background to the global strategy for managing invasive alien species which now is being developed by SCOPE and UNEP. The book is well suited for management staff in various environmental, economic and social sectors. It is essential for university and college teachers, researchers in ecology, natural resources management, and social sciences, as well as M.Sc. and Ph.D. students.
This 100,000-word monograph summarizes the distribution, abundance and breeding biology of the 183 species of wetland-adapted birds reliably reported from South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas through 2011. These include 91 species known to breed or have historically bred in the region, 51 species that migrate through the region but are not yet known to breed or have bred there, and 41 species that are extremely rare, probably extinct, or for which evidence as to their current occurrence is questionable. Brief summaries of the breeding biology of all the regionally nesting species are provided, and information for all species is summarized as to seasonal migrations, habitats, and (in most cases) population status. There is an introductory account of the topography, climate and vegetation of the region insofar as these environmental factors influence wetland birds, six regional maps, and more than 500 references.
Describes biomes of the world, and explains how changes in global climate can affect the different plants and animals that live there.

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