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Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity

by

Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Jonathan Silvertown here explores the astonishing diversity of plant life in regions as spectacular as the verdant climes of Japan, the lush grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the shallow wetlands and teeming freshwaters of Florida, the tropical rainforests of southeast Mexico, and the Canary Islands archipelago, whose evolutionary novelties—and exotic plant life—have earned it the sobriquet “the Galápagos of botany.” Along the way, Silvertown looks closely at the evolution of plant diversity in these locales and explains why such variety persists in light of ecological patterns and evolutionary processes. In novel and useful ways, he also investigates the current state of plant diversity on the planet to show the ever-challenging threats posed by invasive species and humans.

      This paperback edition will include an entirely new chapter on the astonishing diversity of plant life in the Western Cape of South Africa that focuses on fynbos, a vegetation endemic to the Cape. Bringing the secret life of plants into more colorful and vivid focus than ever before, Demons in Eden is an empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology that unlocks evolutionary mysteries of the natural world.

     “Jonathan Silvertown has a knack for explaining complex biological concepts in an accessible and engaging way. He deftly uses analogy and example to illustrate his discussions, and often waxes lyrical in his descriptions.”—Viveka Neveln, American Gardener

       “Jonathan Silvertowns enthusiasm for scientific sleuthing is infectious.”—Sara Alexander, Science 

      “A delightful series of vignettes about plant diversity and evolutionary biology. . . . It is evident that Jonathan Silvertown is a scientist who can communicate complex scientific ideas to the general public. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice

Synopsis:

At the heart of evolution lies a bewildering paradox. Natural selection favors above all the individual that leaves the most offspring—a superorganism of sorts that Jonathan Silvertown here calls the "Darwinian demon." But if such a demon existed, this highly successful organism would populate the entire world with its own kind, beating out other species and eventually extinguishing biodiversity as we know it. Why then, if evolution favors this demon, is the world filled with so many different life forms? What keeps this Darwinian demon in check? If humankind is now the greatest threat to biodiversity on the planet, have we become the Darwinian demon?

Demons in Eden considers these questions using the latest scientific discoveries from the plant world. Readers join Silvertown as he explores the astonishing diversity of plant life in regions as spectacular as the verdant climes of Japan, the lush grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the shallow wetlands and teeming freshwaters of Florida, the tropical rainforests of southeast Mexico, and the Canary Islands archipelago, whose evolutionary novelties—and exotic plant life—have earned it the sobriquet "the Galapagos of botany." Along the way, Silvertown looks closely at the evolution of plant diversity in these locales and explains why such variety persists in light of ecological patterns and evolutionary processes. In novel and useful ways, he also investigates the current state of plant diversity on the planet to show the ever-challenging threats posed by invasive species and humans.

Bringing the secret life of plants into more colorful and vivid focus than ever before, Demons in Eden is an empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology that unlocks evolutionary mysteries of the natural world.

Synopsis:

An empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology,

About the Author

Jonathan Silvertown is professor of ecology at the Open University, Milton Keynes. He is the author or editor of Integrating Ecology and Evolution in a Spatial Context; Plant Life Histories: Ecological Correlates and Phylogenetic Constraints; More Than the Parts: Biology and Politics; Introduction to Plant Population Ecology; and An Orchard Invisibile, forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

Preface

1. An Evolving Eden

2. The Tree of Trees

3. Succulent Isles

4. Demon Mountain

5. The Panama Paradox

6. Nix Nitch

7. Liebig's Revenge

8. Florida!

9. New Demons?

10. The End of Eden?

Scientific Names of Plants Mentioned in the Text

Sources and Further Reading

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226757711
Author:
Silvertown, Jonathan
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
Silvertown, Jonathan W.
Subject:
Ecology
Subject:
Plant diversity.
Subject:
Plant diversity conservation.
Subject:
Life Sciences - Ecology
Subject:
Life Sciences - Botany
Subject:
Life Sciences - Biological Diversity
Subject:
Botany-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1
Publication Date:
20051131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 color plates
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 in

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Related Subjects

Science and Mathematics » Biology » Biological Diversity
Science and Mathematics » Botany » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity Used Hardcover
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$15.95 In Stock
Product details 192 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226757711 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
At the heart of evolution lies a bewildering paradox. Natural selection favors above all the individual that leaves the most offspring—a superorganism of sorts that Jonathan Silvertown here calls the "Darwinian demon." But if such a demon existed, this highly successful organism would populate the entire world with its own kind, beating out other species and eventually extinguishing biodiversity as we know it. Why then, if evolution favors this demon, is the world filled with so many different life forms? What keeps this Darwinian demon in check? If humankind is now the greatest threat to biodiversity on the planet, have we become the Darwinian demon?

Demons in Eden considers these questions using the latest scientific discoveries from the plant world. Readers join Silvertown as he explores the astonishing diversity of plant life in regions as spectacular as the verdant climes of Japan, the lush grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the shallow wetlands and teeming freshwaters of Florida, the tropical rainforests of southeast Mexico, and the Canary Islands archipelago, whose evolutionary novelties—and exotic plant life—have earned it the sobriquet "the Galapagos of botany." Along the way, Silvertown looks closely at the evolution of plant diversity in these locales and explains why such variety persists in light of ecological patterns and evolutionary processes. In novel and useful ways, he also investigates the current state of plant diversity on the planet to show the ever-challenging threats posed by invasive species and humans.

Bringing the secret life of plants into more colorful and vivid focus than ever before, Demons in Eden is an empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology that unlocks evolutionary mysteries of the natural world.

"Synopsis" by , An empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology,
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