Social insects such as ants have long fascinated renowned biologist Wilson. With colleague Hölldobler, he presents this integrated look at social insects, from the genetic to the colony levels of analysis. Incorporating the evolutionary record into the text, the authors alert readers to the relentlessness of environmental pressures on everything that an insect is or does. The authors particularly theorize the adaptive advantages of a species whose members exist as part of a social organization, which emerges in their discussions of preconditions necessary for a transition from an individual to a communal life-cycle. This transition is rare in nature; adding to the amazement is the complexity of insect colonies, to which the authors devote most of their generously illustrated work. Divining how social insects divide into castes of workers, soldiers, and queens; explaining how castes communicate; and placing these successful species within the larger web of life, Wilson and Hölldobler, albeit fond of technical nomenclature, bring an alienlike world to the notice of interested nonscientists, in a volume with long-term library value. --Gilbert Taylor
About the Author
Bert Hölldobler is Foundation Professor at Arizona State University and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. He lives in Arizona and Germany.
Edward O. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the world's preeminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than twenty books, including The Creation, The Social Conquest of Earth, and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.