- Paperback: 252 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 5, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199541876
- ISBN-13: 978-0199541874
- Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.6 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,917,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lives of Ants Paperback – March 5, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Science writer Gordon and ecology-evolution professor Keller (University of Lausanne) present a general-audience overview, short on jargon and long on storytelling, of Earth's most populous and successful genera. Keller and Gordon present ant life in 32 chapters, covering the vast expanse and variation of ant behavior, social structure, reproduction, genetics and ecology while highlighting their importance to ecosystems world-wide. Species of ants that nest underground are crucial for the aeration and nutrient content of soil; in the tropics, leafcutter ants feed leaves to underground fungi "farms," transferring nutrients from the rainforest canopy to depths of 15 feet below earth's surface. Even all-consuming hordes of army ants, marching across the plains of Africa, benefit the planet by creating a mobile ecosystem (flies and butterflies depend on their dung, birds and reptiles feast on both ants and their prey). Human intervention, meanwhile, has introduced species to new habitats, often with destructive results (fire ants in the southern United States, Argentine ants in Europe). Illuminating, entertaining and thought-provoking, without a hint of superiority, this witty species profile will appeal to general readers interested in alien animal kingdom behavior, and/or the effects of invasive species on economics and public health. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"This is a well-written and very engaging book that provides the reader with a scientific understanding along with a historial and philosophical appreciation of the world of ants and their importance to the balance of nature. The Lives of Ants is able to clearly explain to the expert and layperson alike the immensely interesting chemical-communication and social-order systems found within different species of ants. As a result the reader is left with an unending desire to learn more about these truly fascinating creatures."--The American Biology Teacher
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There are also inconsistencies. For one thing, near the beginning of the book, the authors proclaim that "unlike bees, [ants] never go in for dancing." Later, we find a section headed "Dancing and Squeaking" in which we're told that ants may even gesture to one another in "little dances." But readers who wish to explore the matter further will find no specific references.
The only problems I see with the book are the translation and writing styles. Both seem a little... irregular at times. It also gives you the feeling that there is so much more about ants that just isn't covered. And the last few sections about technology were sort of random. I mean studying ants to help produce those amazing technologies... but does that really have to do with the lives of ants? It took me a few months to just go back and finish the book when I started on those chapters.
Overall, I found this book to be quite excellent. It is a very good starting point for learning about these remarkable creatures.