Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies Hardcover – November 17, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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 thirty books, including The Social Conquest of Earth, The Meaning of Human Existence, and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lives with his wife, Irene Wilson, in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Authors Holldobler and Wilson, both having had lengthy professorships at Harvard also shared the Pulitzer Prize for their studies on Ants in 1991; and Wilson a 2nd Pulitzer Prize for "On Human Nature".
The introduction into the social hierarchy of certain insects is studied in great detail, with most of the attention given toward the ants, but also mentioning some parallel relationships with the Termites, Wasps, Bees that show similarities in behavior-ship but have different modalities in communication commands, etc. For example, bees have several important "waggle" dances whilst ants may use one of several dozens of pheromones for communication. The hundreds of invaluable references and the many dozens of superbly taken high-resolution video-graphic images are of the highest order. Neo-Darwinism is discussed in addition to an extensive review of Pheromone chemistry, the latter being must less complex than one might have anticipated.
If you are looking for information about ants and bees as social insects, this book is full of fascinating and very detailed information -- down to the pheromones certain species emit for specific tasks. Even for someone with a fairly good entomology background, though, I found the text really dense with scientific terminology and jargon. I got the sense this was written for other ant specialists, not for the general population or hobbyists. For facts and information, I would say this book is a 5 star book.
However, I guess I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a more entertaining read. I really enjoy natural history and anecdotes about insects. I work as a naturalist for the State Parks system and lead nature hikes and classes. Ants are everywhere, and I was hoping both to feed my own curiosity and evoke the curiosity of others with information gleaned from this book. Instead, I felt like I was reading dense text book. I could read a few pages at a time, but then had to put it down. So as a read just for pleasure it was kind of a bust. Hence the overall rating of 3.
The book is beautiful to look at, with many color plates. It would have been nice if some sort of scale indication was included with each plate to give some idea of the size of the insect depicted.
In summary, this book is not for the layman.
Most recent customer reviews
So much information and so well written. I read it twice to gather it all in and still need to read it again!
1- The understanding of chemical communication is a bit too simplistic for my taste, thus loosing...Read more