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The Other Insect Societies Hardcover – October 30, 2006

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674021631 ISBN-10: 0674021630

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This book provides comprehensive, astoundingly thorough coverage of the 'minor' social insect groups, which have been neglected since Fabre brought the study of insect behavior to life over 100 years ago. The chapters make accessible for the first time a huge trove of obscure yet endlessly fascinating natural history, which should entertain as well as inspire future researchers to study its six-legged bestiary. I was especially pleased to see the historical treatments of issues and research topics, which put the fields and topics in perspective. The Other Insect Societies is a tremendously impressive piece of scholarship. (Bernard Crespi, Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Simon Fraser University)

This marvelously researched and comprehensive work fills a major gap in the literature on insect social behavior...Jim Costa has done this only as a seasoned entomologist could accomplish it, with a full account of each major taxonomic group in turn, including the contextual information needed to understand the significance of the social behavior its constituent species display...[He] routinely travels from taxonomy to anatomy, from physiology to ecology, and into broad issues of natural history to create in this book an overall mosaic of what the 'other' insect societies are and what they have achieved across hundreds of millions of years of evolution. (from Edward O. Wilson's Commentary on The Other Insect Societies)

Perhaps we need fresh data from previously neglected kinds of insect societies. This is the approach James Costa offers in The Other Insect Societies. Costa launches the entomological equivalent of subaltern studies, focusing deliberately on species that have failed to make it to Wilson's elite grade of 'eusociality.' Readers will find in the book a fascinating wealth of information about the obscure social lives of earwigs, grasshoppers, crickets, mantids, cockroaches, aphids, treehoppers, bugs, thrips, beetles, caterpillars, sawflies, and even some non-insect anthropods. Costa's book will inevitably be compared with The Evolution of Social Behavior in Insects and Arachnids, edited by Jae C. Choe and Bernard Crespi...I am rather optimistic that, paralleling the effects of the subaltern studies of Indian historians, a focus on other insect societies will provide valuable fresh perspectives useful even for understanding present-day eusocial species...A few hours with Costa's book will bring any beginner up to date with a century's worth of scattered literature on almost everything that is known about any of the many obscure groups of insects discussed. (Raghavendra Gadagkar Science 2006-12-01)

E.O. Wilson calls the honeybees, the army and leaf-cutter ants, and the mound-building termites the superstars of insect social behavior. In this demanding but interesting book, Costa explores the other arthropod orders for social behavior. A few of his chapter titles suggest the range of areas and activities he explores: 'Earwig Mothers,' 'Hopper Herds and Cricket Families,' 'Samurai Aphids' and 'Communes and Family Fortresses.' A good present for the serious scientist. (Gerry Rising Buffalo News)

For much of its history, the study of insect sociality has been dominated by the study of ants, bees and wasps...The other social arthropods have been largely ignored or relegated to fringe status. James T. Costa seeks to correct this oversight with his book The Other Insect Societies. He succeeds in showcasing the true diversity of social behaviour among insects, spiders and crustaceans, and provides support for a set of alternative hypotheses about social evolution that should stimulate research and fuel scientific debate for years to come...Although others have attempted to synthesize the literature on non-eusocial insect societies, this is the first major single-author monograph on the topic for more than a decade...Many of the taxa covered in the book are illustrated with stunning colour photographs. Costa takes a refreshingly unbiased approach to examining these fascinating societies, providing insight into how non-eusocial insect societies are structured, as well as details of their systematics, natural history, ecology and anatomy. His writing is scholarly enough to appeal to professionals, yet it is accessible enough to enlighten any interested reader. His book gives the 'other insect societies' well-deserved time in the spotlight. (Jenai Miller and George Uetz Nature 2007-01-18)

In the introduction the author sets a goal of being comprehensive but not encyclopaedic, and to highlight important outstanding questions that will entice a new generation of eager young naturalists to take a closer look. This goal is, in my opinion, fully accomplished. The book will become a standard reference work on the subject for many years to come and boost research on insects that would otherwise be neglected or poorly studied. This unique source of information should not be missing from the bookshelf of any student of insect ecology or socio-biology. Nevertheless, broadly interested zoologists and ecologists as well as laymen naturalists will undoubtedly find it both instructive and entertaining. (J. Žd'árek European Journal of Entomology 2007-01-01)

When one thinks of social insects it is usually of the very organized (eusocial) groups such as termites and ants, and the eusocial species of bees and wasps, which have highly complex societies. This book is an important reference to the literature of other, less complex, social arrangements found in many groups of insects and other arthropods. Costa has taken great pains to compile an erudite reference work that includes discussions of sociality in Derrnaptera, Orthoptera, Embiidina, Manteodea, Phasmatodea, Blattaria, Psocoptera, Zoraptera, Hemiptera, Thysanoptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, and some other arthropod groups including arachnids, centipedes, millipedes, and crustaceans. (R. C. Graves Choice 2007-07-01)

In this extraordinarily thorough book, James T. Costa sets the record straight and rebalances our view of sociality in insects by dealing with the neglected also-rans...[A] tour de force of natural history...The Other Insect Societies provides an encyclopedic and data-rich overview of that sociality, beautifully written with a love for the subject and with humor. It is a remarkable and eye-opening collation, a ground-breaking and first-class reference work of science and natural history. (Gaden S. Robinson Times Literary Supplement 2007-07-27)

The Other Insect Societies is a stunning feat of scholarship...I think that everyone who teaches entomology should buy a copy and use it. Costa has a most engaging, unforced enthusiasm for these animals, and we are greatly in his debt that he has unlocked this secret world for us. (William A. Foster Trends in Ecology and Evolution)

I was very impressed by the depth of knowledge of the author of each taxonomic group and of the contextual information needed to understand the social behaviour of its members...The book will become a standard reference work on the subject for many years to come and boost research on insects that would otherwise be neglected or poorly studied. This unique source of information should not be missing from the bookshelf of any student of insect ecology or socio-biology. Nevertheless, broadly interested zoologists and ecologists as well as laymen naturalists will undoubtedly find it both instructive and entertaining. (J. Zdarek European Journal of Entomology 2007-01-01)

[Costa] is an experienced and passionate naturalist that makes him an ideal author for this book: he simultaneously manages to be a narrator--understood by the public--as well as a scientist, achieving comprehensiveness in the subject. (Dirk Maes Journal of Insect Conservation 2007-10-24)

About the Author

James T. Costa is Executive Director of Highlands Biological Station and Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University.

Bert Hölldobler is now Foundation Professor of Biology at Arizona State University; formerly Chair of Behavioral Physiology and Sociology at the Theodor Boveri Institute, University of Würzburg. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Senior Scientist Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German government. Until 1990, he was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University.

Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University. In addition to two Pulitzer Prizes (one of which he shares with Bert Hölldobler), Wilson has won many scientific awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 812 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (September 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674021630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674021631
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,145,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jim Costa is Executive Director of the Highlands Biological Station (Highlands, North Carolina, USA) and Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, North Carolina, USA), where he has been on the faculty since 1996. An entomologist with a special interest in social evolution, he has studied insect social behavior widely from the southern Appalachians to Latin America and Europe. Through his entomological work Jim is also a long-time Research Associate in Entomology at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, and in 2004-2005 was named Jean Rosselet Fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where he completed his first book, 'The Other Insect Societies' (Harvard University Press, 2006).

Jim has taught genetics, biogeography, entomology, Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species,' and field courses in Highlands, Hawai'i, and the desert southwest. His interest in Darwin and the history of evolutionary biology takes him to England each summer, where he teaches 'On the Origin of Species' in Harvard's summer program at the University of Oxford. Jim also lectures widely in the US and Europe on social evolution, early naturalist-explorers such as William Bartram, and Darwin, Wallace, and the history of evolutionary thinking. He is a regular expedition leader in the Galápagos Islands for the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, lecturing on Darwin, Wallace, and island ecology and evolution.

In 2009 Harvard University Press published 'The Annotated Origin,' Jim's annotated edition of 'On the Origin of Species,' designed to help readers better understand the historical context, structure, and content of Darwin's masterwork. In 2012-2013 Jim and his family spent a year-long sabbatical year in Berlin, Germany, where Jim was a Fellow of the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study -- the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. There he completed his latest books, celebrating Alfred Russel Wallace, the renowned tropical explorer and collector, founder of the field of evolutionary biogeography, and co-discoverer with Darwin of natural selection in 1858. 'On the Organic Law of Change' (Harvard, 2013) is an annotated transcription of the most important field notebook kept by Wallace during his southeast Asian explorations in the 1850s. This notebook provides new insights into the development of Wallace's evolutionary thinking though this formative period. In the companion volume 'Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species' (Harvard, 2014) Jim analyzes Wallace's ideas on evolution in the notebook period in comparison with Darwin's thinking, and examines the relationship between these two giants of evolutionary biology.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a "lay person" and not an entomologist or a biologist, this book will take some patience to read...maybe even wade through with your dictionary! As a recent convert to the world of bugs, I found it fascinating and well worth the effort. I'm still enthralled with ants and bees, but now have an appreciation for some other social insects as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Montagano on February 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Deeply satisfying, well researched, detailed and fascinating review. I recommend it enthusiastically and without reservation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heather Montgomery on June 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Full of amazing information about the insect world. If you are interested in insect behavior, looking for documentation of social behavior, and ready for an in-depth approach, this is the book for you. Although it is not for the casual reader, Costa's adept analogies and insightful explanations make this scientific text accessible to the hobbyist. Organized taxonomically, this book narrates natural history and includes ecology, anatomy, behavior, physiology and continuing questions.
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