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How and Why Species Multiply: The Radiation of Darwin's Finches Hardcover – Nov 11 2007


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Evolution Dec 14 2007
By Calochortus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This makes a nice book to read along with Beak of the finch, a more popularized treatment of the same topic and Pulitzer Prize winner from a few years ago. In some ways the Beak book does a better job on the same material, since it includes fascinating personal information on the Grants and their quest, which is entirely absent from this more scholarly tome. Even so the Grants have made a noble effort to write a readable yet serious and detailed treatise on their life's work that would be accessible to an intelligent layman. Give the complexity and uncertainty of reconstructing the finch phylogeny and ecological history of bygone eras in the Galapagos, they have done an admirable job. The Grants make every effort, with a strong structure designed to get across their main ideas. Introductions, careful descriptions largely free of jargon, and nice summaries for each chapter, then a summary chapter at the end.

The most surprising and disappointing feature of the book is the treatment of the color plates. The photos themselves are mostly excellent, taken from the vast reservoir the Grants have amassed for over 30 years. They show the beaks of the finches like no one else ever has. But the tiny size of the photos is quite remarkable. Some measure only an inch or two high and not much wider. Most are virtually impossible to appreciate. What a shame.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Excellent March 30 2008
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This concise and well written book is the distillation of over 30 years of landmark work on natural selection and speciation in the famous Darwin's finch radiation of the Galapagos islands. This research project generated dozens of important papers and 2 prior, thick scholarly monographs. The Grants now present a clear and thoughtful digest of their immense amount of work. The Grants present their work as a test and exploration of the major model of speciation, the allopatric model articulated by the late Ernst Mayr. Using painstaking longitudinal study of Galapagos finch populations and modern genetics techniques, the Grants fused traditional field biology with modern laboratory biology in a particularly illuminating manner. Since evaluating the allopatric speciation model requires a good deal of inference of past events, much of the work and much of the explication in this book is devoted to careful logical analysis of the predicted consequences of the model and evaluating the model by comparing these predictions with the actual distribution and characters of Galapagos finch species. The Grants' longitudinal dataset gave them also the opportunity to actually witness and characterize some features, such as initial colonization events and natural selection in action, predicted by the model. The result is largely a vindication of the model. The Grants found some particularly interesting and to me surprising features, such as the potential importance of hybridization and introgression for generating genetic diversity. The systematic analysis of several features of evolution make this set of studies a classic in the literature. This book gives a nice idea not only of the evolutionary processes that are its subject but also of the difficult experiments needed to study these processes.
This book is written and illustrated quite well. It is pitched for a general scientific audience and is easily understandable by anyone with knowledge of basic biology. My only complaint, and it is minor, is that the publisher put all the color plates in the middle of the book. Some of the plates could have been larger.
This book deserves a wide readership.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Making How and Why Species Multiply clearer Aug. 2 2008
By Paul Daniel Picard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Grants have written an excellent, direct, and clearly description of the formation of new species from their unique vantage point as long time researchers. They use their 30+ years of experience with Galapagos finches to great advantage by including their data and data analysis to illustrate the key features of speciation. A wonderful starting point for any serious student of evolution. Also a great way to discover how important the Galapagos islands still are for our understanding of that great "mystery of mysteries."
fundamental to biology students Aug. 27 2013
By Andres Angulo Rubiano - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I begin to read this book , all lessons and concepts in evolutionary biology in the other books of evolution (Futuyma for example) take sense and were more clear and sounding, and this is possible when you have in front an exceptional research program that was conducted in large spatial and temporal scales that allow make a strong tests of critical assumptions and predictions of the evolutionary theory. It is the key and the reasons for why I think that this book is magic and everyone interested not only in evolution should read this book (with some others for example Jonathan Losos book in caribbean Anolis) . The unparalleled experience of the grants and your dedication in the details in the measurement of the critical variables, the way they show the importance of the experimental design not only in the laboratories if not also in the natural laboratories like the Galapagos islands, and your deep and wide knowledge in evolutionary biology discipline and the gaps that remain it, It s a strong reason to recommend this book. The Grants begins with the historical background and the process that give rise to seminal ideas in evolution and the ways that pioneers like David Lack used to understand the role of the ecology in the evolutionary process. The coherent order and structure of the chapters its a good approach to understand the role played by model organisms as the darwin finches in our undertanding in diverse components of evolution like adaptative radiations , speciation, character displacement, phylogenetic methods, microevolutionary forces, the role of the geography and contigency and the utility to merge both the empirical , experimental and theoretical approaches to test critically the theory in a exceptional (if we compare with land-masses) geographical settlement like Galapagos Islands and others islands alike. This marvelous coverage of all this topics with the Grants research, In my opinion its no just a excelent reference to profesionals in ecology and evolution ,if not also a great opportunity to socialize and expand in a wide audience how and why species arise and why the science is a fundamental driver to answer this questions, important questions in our search to find meaning to our own existence...
Groundbreaking new information March 25 2013
By Dr. Tom English - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The detailed studies of Darwin's Finches shows that Darwin's "natural selection" model is inadequate to account for the rapid complex changes that species undergo in response to environmental changes. Peter & Rosemary Grant conclusively demopnstrate that major changes do occur within a single generation.


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