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The Lives of Ants


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.
'The Lives of Ants', written for a popular audience, covers ant behaviour, ecology and evolution in a lively way. Deborah M. Gordon, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Vol.24 No. 9 Excellent layman's introduciton to myrmecology. Simon Schama, Financial Times This readable book contains...and answers all the things you've ever wanted to know about ants. James Delingpole, Mail on Sunday Excellent book. Guy Dammann, Laurent Keller is an exceptionally talented evolutionary biologist. Nigel R. Franks, Science The book offers readers a fascinating account of the biology of ants. Nigel R. Franks, Science The book will reward its readers. Nigel R. Franks, Science Scientific yet accessible book. The Economist Fascinating book. PD Smith, The Guardian Attractive, readable summary of research into their lives. Jonathan Beard, New Scientist

"The Lives of Ants is superb in every way. Were it not based on facts, it could well be thought of as science fiction, but here so many of the facts of ant life are so bizarre that a fiction writer would have to work very hard to outdo the antics of ants."--Science Books and Films
Listed in Science Book News
"Illuminating, entertaining and thought-provoking."--Publishers Weekly
"In this scientific yet accessible book, Laurent Keller and his co-writer, Elisabeth Gordon, shed light on how these extraordinary complex creatures operate and what we can learn from them."--The Economist
"...the book offers readers a fascinating account of the biology of ants...The Lives of Ants offers a very strong argument for scientists to find their own voices."--Science Magazine
"...excellent layman's introduction to myrmecology."

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