Download Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare by Paul A. Colinvaux PDF

By Paul A. Colinvaux

Why do birds sing within the morning ?
Why is the ocean blue?
What bills for the tremendous variety
of plant and animal species ?
A zoologist takes an unique glance at
the international round him, thinking about the answers
provided via clinical examine and describing
nature in a manner that would lead the curious
to notice their atmosphere with clean eyes.
Written in a transparent, sleek variety, every one chapter
explores a separate subject, frequently beginning
with a paradox that arose within the literature
of a iteration or so in the past and finishing with a report
on the present kingdom of our knowledge.
Whether he discusses the teams into which
animals fall by means of dimension, the explanations why oceans harbour
tiny vegetation, or the behaviour of the wolf spider,
Paul Colinvaux brings to his topic both
profound wisdom and an enthusiasm that will
encourage a better realizing of our
environment and of the efforts of those
who search to maintain it.
'A bright photo of ways the flora and fauna works...
an very good and intensely readable book'
—Nature

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Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare

Why do birds sing within the morning ?
Why is the ocean blue?
What debts for the titanic variety
of plant and animal species ?
A zoologist takes an wonderful glance at
the international round him, brooding about the answers
provided through medical learn and describing
nature in a manner that would lead the curious
to detect their atmosphere with clean eyes.
Written in a transparent, sleek kind, each one chapter
explores a separate subject, frequently beginning
with a paradox that arose within the literature
of a iteration or so in the past and finishing with a report
on the present kingdom of our knowledge.
Whether he discusses the teams into which
animals fall by way of measurement, the explanations why oceans harbour
tiny crops, or the behaviour of the wolf spider,
Paul Colinvaux brings to his topic both
profound wisdom and an enthusiasm that will
encourage a better knowing of our
environment and of the efforts of those
who search to maintain it.
'A vibrant photograph of the way the wildlife works. ..
an very good and extremely readable book'
—Nature

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Extra resources for Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare

Example text

In the vast conifer forests of southern Russia or Canada the sides of the hole are striped with extraordinary colours. There are fragrant needles and black 45 Why Big Fierce A nim als A re Rare humus at the top of the ground in the boreal forest but then a broad band of glinting white or grey perhaps six inches thick before one comes to depths of brown and rust. Russian peasants have long coped with this soil and know its hostile properties for farming. They called it the ash soil (podzol) because when they ploughed it the ground looked as if it was covered with ashes.

We were talking of energy degraded step by step as it flowed down food chains, losing its power to do work and pouring steadily away to the sink of heat. The grand pattern of life that Elton had seen on Spitzbergen and that countless naturalists had intuitively known before was clearly and directly a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. We can now understand why there are not fiercer dragons on the earth than there are; it is because the energy supply will not stretch to the support of super-dragons.

Why should trees keep their leaves year-round in the tropics and in cold Canada and Sweden, but the forests in between lose theirs in winter? Why do desert plants grow like organ pipes? Why in the arctic are there no trees at all? The weather is* obviously the designer of these fashions, but how can weather cause such curious designs and conformity? Botanists tried for a hundred years without convinc­ ing general Answers. But now we know. Consider first the matter of the missing arctic trees. It was never enough to say, “Oh, it is just too harsh for trees there,” because succulent meadows of fragile flowers flourish in the arctic, deli­ cate things that could not survive harsh treatm ent.

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