Synopses & Reviews
This textbook is both an introduction to quantitative biology and a guide for the number-shy. Richard Burton fosters a sense of the fundamental importance and usefulness of mathematical principles in biology, with a fascinating range of examples. The book is geared toward the nonmathematician, and covers the basics as well as various more advanced topics from many diverse biological disciplines. Questions and calculations encourage active participation without holding up the casual reader. A key feature is the structure of the book. Rather than building it around biological disciplines, Dr. Burton emphasizes the common ways of reasoning used in areas as diverse as insect and population growth, seed mortality, and sensory response (to mention a few that use logarithms).
"As a gentle introduction to mathematics for the numerically phobic biology undergraduate, Richard Burton's Biology by Numbers could hardly be bettered. Well-chosen examples take the agony out of algorithms and the confusion out of calculus." New Scientist"...Burton's book is a cornucopia of such succulent biological fruits as the snail albumin gland, grazers on grasslands, sodium in the diets of moose, and the allometries of stag beetles. Taken in a single serving, it makes for a very rich diet. The book is designed to attract two types of readers: the mathematically inclined who seek an introduction to biological problems, and the mathematically timid who sense a need to use quantitative methods to make sense of biology." Fred Adler, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology
A practical undergraduate textbook for maths-shy biology students showing how basic maths reveals important insights.
The number-shy biology student is a common species. This introductory text shows how to apply simple mathematical principles to a range of biological examples to reveal vital insights and understanding. Packed with questions and calculations and covering the whole range of biology, this is for all maths-shy biologists, from first-year undergraduates to graduates.
Biology students are notoriously reluctant to use mathematics, yet a simple grasp of numbers reveals real insights into a whole range of biological phenomena. In this introductory text Richard Burton fosters a sense of the importance of maths to biology using a wealth of examples while assuming minimal maths ability. Questions and calculations encourage active participation, and the structure shows how the same reasoning aids the understanding of a range of biological problems. Aimed at beginning undergraduates but of great value to all the number-shy, including graduate students.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 217-223) and index.
Table of Contents
Preface; A guide to the book; 1. Putting two and two together; 2. Units, formulae and the use of old envelopes: confronting some obstacles to quantitative thinking; 3. Aspects of energy metabolism; 4. Getting things in proportion; 5. Perilous percentages, dangerous ratios; 6. Building a trophic pyramid; 7. Sodium in animals and plants; 8. Exchanges of water and carbon dioxide; 9. A geometric series; 10. Introduction to logarithms; 11. Bringing logarithms to life; 12. Exponential relationships; 13. Aspects of allometry; 14. More on allometry, and on quantitative patterns in nature; 15. How the abundance of food affects rates of feeding; 16. The characterization of trees and other branching systems; 17. Epilogue; References; Notes; Index.