Plants are a fundamental part of the biosphere and their evolution has directly affected animal life, and the Earth's climate. This Very Short Introduction provides a concise account of the nature of plants, their variety, their evolution, and their importance and uses, stressing the importance of conservation for the future.
Since the dawn of human civilization, forests have provided us with food, resources, and energy. The history of human development is also one of forest loss and transformation, and yet even in our increasingly urbanized societies we remain surprisingly dependent on forests for a wide range of goods and services. Moreover, forests still retain a remarkable hold on our environmental values. In an era of continuing tropical deforestation and temperate forest resurgence, and in the midst of uncertainties of climate and land use changes, it is more important than ever to understand what forests are, how they contribute to our livelihoods, and how they underpin our cultural histories and futures. In this Very Short Introduction Jaboury Ghazoul explores our contrasting interactions with forests, as well as their origins, dynamics, and the range of goods and services they provide to human society. Ghazoul concludes with an examination of the recent history of deforestation, transitions to reforestation, and the future outlook for forests particularly in the context of expected climate change. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Teeth are amazing - the product of half a billion years of evolution. They provide fuel for the body by breaking apart other living things; and they must do it again and again over a lifetime without themselves being broken in the process. In this Very Short Introduction, Peter S. Ungar, an award-winning author and leading scientist, presents the story of teeth. Ungar outlines the key concepts, including insights into the origin of teeth and theirevolution. Considering why teeth are important, he describes how they are made, and how they work, including their fundamental importance in the fossil record. Ungar finishes with a review of mammal teeth, looking athow they evolved and how recent changes to our diet are now affecting dental health.
"In an era of warming climate, the study of the ice age past is now more important than ever. This book examines the wonders of the Quaternary ice age - to show how ice age landscapes and ecosystems were repeatedly and rapidly transformed as plants, animals, and humans reorganized their worlds." --Publisher.
Rivers have played an extraordinarily important role in creating the world in which we live. They create landscapes and provide water to people, plants and animals, nourishing both town and country. The flow of rivers has enthused poets and painters, explorers and pilgrims. Rivers have acted as cradles for civilization and agents of disaster; a river may be a barrier or a highway, it can bear trade and sediment, culture and conflict. A river may inspire or it may terrify. This Very Short Introduction is a celebration of rivers in all their diversity. Nick Middleton covers a wide and eclectic range of river-based themes, from physical geography to mythology, to industrial history and literary criticism. Worshipped and revered, respected and feared, rivers reflect both the natural and social history of our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The variety of the mycological world is far greater than most people imagine. Tens of thousands of fungal species have been described and many more are known only from the abundance of their genes in soil and water. Fungi are hugely important as agents of wood decay in forests, and, as parasites, they have caused the deaths of millions of people by ravaging crops and reshaping our natural ecosystems. Fungi also perform a variety of essential functions in ecosystems, and are important to both agriculture and biotechnology. Their importance is now becoming greatly appreciated among scientists, though there is much still to be understood concerning their taxonomy and evolution. This Very Short Introduction highlights the variety and extraordinary natures of fungi, revealing the remarkable facts of fungal biology and the global significance of these enchanting organisms. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
In this Very Short Introduction, Alan Taylor presents the current scholarly understanding of colonial America to a broader audience. He focuses on the transatlantic and a transcontinental perspective, examining the interplay of Europe, Africa, and the Americas through the flows of goods, people, plants, animals, capital, and ideas.
Organic chemistry concerns the properties and synthesis of carbon-based molecules. Carbon atoms can concatenate into long chains and cyclic compounds, bonding with a variety of other elements, so the possible structures are almost limitless. Graham Patrick explores the world of organic chemistry and its wide applications.
"Looks at both the regional and global effects of mountains on climate and ecosystems. Considers the value of mountains to humanity, as centres of biological and cultural diversity, religious sanctuaries, sources of food, timber, and medicines, and major centres for tourism. Discusses the impact of climate change on mountains, and considers how this affects the people who rely on mountains for their livelihood or culture"--Publisher's description.
Deserts make up a third of the planet's land surface, but if you picture a desert, what comes to mind? A wasteland? A drought? A place devoid of all life forms? Deserts are remarkable places. Typified by drought and extremes of temperature, they can be harsh and hostile; but many deserts are also spectacularly beautiful, and on occasion teem with life. Nick Middleton explores how each desert is unique: through fantastic life forms, extraordinary scenery, and ingenious human adaptations. He demonstrates a desert's immense natural beauty, its rich biodiversity, and uncovers a long history of successful human occupation. This Very Short Introduction tells you everything you ever wanted to know about these extraordinary places and captures their importance in the working of our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Epicureanism is commonly associated with a carefree view of life and the pursuit of pleasures, particularly the pleasures of the table. However it was a complex and distinctive system of philosophy that emphasized simplicity and moderation, and considered nature to consist of atoms and the void. Epicureanism is a school of thought whose legacy continues to reverberate today. In this Very Short Introduction, Catherine Wilson explains the key ideas of the School, comparing them with those of the rival Stoics and with Kantian ethics, and tracing their influence on the development of scientific and political thought from Locke, Newton, and Galileo to Rousseau, Marx, Bentham, and Mill. She discusses the adoption and adaptation of Epicurean motifs in science, morality, and politics from the 17th Century onwards and contextualises the significance of Epicureanism in modern life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
A brief examination of the history and science of food chronicles four great transitions including those of cooking, agriculture, processing and preservation to consider the sources of culinary preferences, the disparity between malnutrition and overconsumption and the issues associated with obesity, sustainable agriculture and genetic modification. Original.
"A concise account of what we know about development discusses the first vital steps of growth and explores one of the liveliest areas of scientific research."--P. [2] of cover.
How many languages are there? What differentiates one language from another? Are new languages still being discovered? Why are so many languages disappearing? The diversity of languages today is varied, but it is steadily declining. In this Very Short Introduction, Stephen Anderson answers the above questions by looking at the science behind languages. Considering a wide range of different languages and linguistic examples, he demonstrates how languages are not uniformly distributed around the world; just as some places are more diverse than others in terms of plants and animal species, the same goes for the distribution of languages. Exploring the basis for linguistic classification and raising questions about how we identify a language, as well as considering signed languages as well as spoken, Anderson examines the wider social issues of losing languages, and their impact in terms of the endangerment of cultures and peoples. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The importance of the oceans to life on Earth cannot be overstated. Liquid water covers more than 70% of our planet's surface and, in past geological time, has spread over 85%. Life on Earth began in the oceans over 3.5 billion years ago and remained there for the great majority of that time. Today the seas still provide 99% of habitable living space, the largest repository of biomass, and holds the greatest number of undiscovered species on the planet. Our oceans are vital for the regulation of climate, and with global warming and decreasing land area, they have become increasingly important as the source of food, energy in the form of oil and gas, and for their mineral wealth. Oceans also form a key part of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements critical to life. Nutrients in upwelling areas are spread by ocean currents, and the plankton of the seas supports a wealth of wildlife. In this Very Short Introduction Dorrik Stow analyses these most important components of our blue planet and considers their relationship with, and exploitation by, humans. He shows how the oceans are an essential resource to our overpopulated world, and discusses why exploration and greater scientific understanding of the oceans, their chemistry, and their mineral wealth are now a high priority. Stow also explores what we know of how oceans originate, and evolve and change; the shape of the seafloor and nature of its cover; the physical processes that stir the waters and mix such a rich chemical broth; and the inseparable link between oceans and climate. As polar ice melts and sea-levels rise, countless millions who have made their homes on low-lying lands close to the sea are threatened. As scientific exploration of the seas gathers pace, the new knowledge gained of the ocean-Earth systems and their interaction with the human environment is vital to our understanding of how we can preserve these ultimately fragile environments. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Arguments still rage about the implications of the evolutionary theory, and scepticism about Darwin's contribution to knowledge is widespread. This accessible study reasserts the importance of Darwin's work for the development of modern biology.
Describes the expansions of microbiology; it's methods, from traditional microscopy and laboratory culture to the latest genomic analysis.
Evolution auf den Punkt gebracht. Eine kurze Einführung in die Prinzipien und Fragen der Entstehung und Entwicklung des Lebens auf unserem Planeten.
Do you think of atheists as immoral pessimists who live their lives without meaning, purpose, or values? Think again! Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral.

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