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The Ecology of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents [Paperback]

by Cindy Lee Van Dover
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 6, 2000 0691049297 978-0691049298 1

Teeming with weird and wonderful life--giant clams and mussels, tubeworms, "eyeless" shrimp, and bacteria that survive on sulfur--deep-sea hot-water springs are found along rifts where sea-floor spreading occurs. The theory of plate tectonics predicted the existence of these hydrothermal vents, but they were discovered only in 1977. Since then the sites have attracted teams of scientists seeking to understand how life can thrive in what would seem to be intolerable or extreme conditions of temperature and fluid chemistry. Some suspect that these vents even hold the key to understanding the very origins of life. Here a leading expert provides the first authoritative and comprehensive account of this research in a book intended for students, professionals, and general readers. Cindy Lee Van Dover, an ecologist, brings nearly two decades of experience and a lively writing style to the text, which is further enhanced by two hundred illustrations, including photographs of vent communities taken in situ.

The book begins by explaining what is known about hydrothermal systems in terms of their deep-sea environment and their geological and chemical makeup. The coverage of microbial ecology includes a chapter on symbiosis. Symbiotic relationships are further developed in a section on physiological ecology, which includes discussions of adaptations to sulfide, thermal tolerances, and sensory adaptations. Separate chapters are devoted to trophic relationships and reproductive ecology. A chapter on community dynamics reveals what has been learned about the ways in which vent communities become established and why they persist, while a chapter on evolution and biogeography examines patterns of species diversity and evolutionary relationships within chemosynthetic ecosystems.

Cognate communities such as seeps and whale skeletons come under scrutiny for their ability to support microbial and invertebrate communities that are ecologically and evolutionarily related to hydrothermal faunas. The book concludes by exploring the possibility that life originated at hydrothermal vents, a hypothesis that has had tremendous impact on our ideas about the potential for life on other planets or planetary bodies in our solar system.

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The Ecology of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents + Deep-Sea Biology: A Natural History of Organisms at the Deep-Sea Floor + Deep-Sea Biodiversity: Pattern and Scale
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Editorial Reviews Review

The deep sea has long been likened to a terrestrial desert. In some ways the analogy is useful, writes marine biologist Cindy Lee Van Dover, for the oceanic floor, like many arid regions of the earth, is low in biomass. She adds, "What life there is, though, is remarkably diverse," sometimes numbering hundreds of species in a single square meter of mud.

That deep-sea diversity is nowhere more pronounced than in the thermal vents that often occur where tectonic plates meet, marked by great lava fields and even active volcanoes (three-quarters of which are underwater). Located, among other places, along the great mountain ridges of the Laurentian Abyss and the Marianas Trench, these vents harbor strange creatures found nowhere else--giant clams and mussels, for example, and 2-meter-long "tubeworms" whose internal organs house sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Discovered only in 1977, these hydrothermal vents, which vary markedly from ocean to ocean, have excited much attention among researchers. Some scholars now believe that life originated in these fiery environments, which have yielded relict species of barnacles, crinoids, and mollusks hitherto known only from the fossil record.

Examining the ecology and geochemistry of the planet's deep-sea vent systems, Van Dover presents a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary, and highly accessible survey of these mysterious places. --Gregory McNamee


One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2000

"[Van Dover] writes well and is not above conducting heroic experiments in what I assume is her own kitchen."--Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World

"[An] impressive, eminently readable book. . . ."--Ellis L. Yochelson, American Scientist

"Foremost in understanding the ecology of hydrothermal vents has been Cindy Van Dover. "--Paul A. Tyler, Trends in Ecology and Evolution

"The strength of Van Dover's book is that it is academically definitive. . . Coverage is comprehensive, and detailed geophysical, chemical and biological issues are taken in their stride with the same sureness of touch."--Richard Shelton, Times Literary Supplement

"A remarkably thorough and balanced, dynamic account of evolving and expanding knowledge of these ocean systems . . . This unique, most up-to-date book on a vast multidisciplinary subject, written enthusiastically and authoritatively, will be an invaluable resource. . ."--

"The book is remarkably thorough and comprehensive and keeps the reader captivated right up to the end. . . . [A] unique source of information on knowledge of an ecosystem that few of us will ever get a chance to see first-hand."--D. Chandramohan, Current Science

"I heartily recommend it to anyone with an interest in learning about what is undoubtedly one of the most important discoveries in earth and life sciences of the past century."--John Woodside, The Leading Edge

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (March 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691049297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691049298
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, in depth and well written text April 7, 2000
This book rates along with the standard texts by Marshall, Herring and Tyler that should be on the shelves of anyone interested in the biology of the deep sea. It brings the disparate biological, geological and biochemical hydrothermal vent literature together brilliantly. My only criticisms of the text are a lack of attention to the potentially damaging effects of scientific investigations on hydrothermal vents and propogation of the myth that deep-sea shrimps are able to see black-body radiation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for learning about the deep sea! February 27, 2006
By Lanna
I really enjoyed reading this book because it teaches in a conversational tone and it is so interesting! It doesn't read like a textbook at all.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent overview of hydrothermal systems January 18, 2005
I'm a biochemist who has started to work in the area of vent microbiology, and this book has served as an essential reference of vent ecology and basic vent geology for me - an excellent, readable book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good condition and speedy. October 11, 2005
I got this book very promptly as well as in great condition. Thanks!
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heir to Galileo February 21, 2001
I had the pleasure of sailing with Cindy van Dover during 1985's Argo-RISE expedition to the Galapagos Rift. She probably recalls that I spent much of that oceanographic expedition annoying everyone with my overly-enthisiastic babble about what was then perceived as every oceanographer's chief competition for funding - the space program. Even under threats that if I didn't stop, I might end up "sleeping with the fishes," I could not stop talking about Valkyrie rockets and the moons of Jupiter.
Cindy's hydrothermal vents have turned out to be much more important than most people realize. Sub-surface, vent-sustained seas have been all but confirmed under the ice of Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede. They probably also reside inside Saturn's Enceladus and Titan, and they are suspected under Callisto and Mars. Looking outward from our Earth, it now appears that most life in the universe exists near deep ocean vents, and that worlds with their habitable zones on the outside are so rare as to make we surface dwellers a galactic minority, if not downright freakish.
This book is simply the most detailed single overview yet produced on what history may ultimately regard as one of biology's (and astrobiology's) most important discoveries - which makes Cindy van Dover more akin to Galileo than to William Beebe or Sylvia Earle. Cindy was partly responsible for turning my attention down from space, for more than a decade, and into more "earthy" subjects such as archaeology. I have to apologize to her though, for that little brawl I almost caused before the expedition; what a way to learn never, never to get so excited about submersibles and robot probes that I shout, in a diner full of non-oceanographer teamsters and lumber jacks, "I can't wait to go down on ALVIN!"
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