Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can it actually feel an insect's tiny, spindly legs? And how do cherry blossoms know when to bloom? Can they actually remember the weather? For centuries we have collectively marveled at plant diversity and form—from Charles Darwin's early fascination with stems to Seymour Krelborn's distorted doting in Little Shop of Horrors. But now, in What a Plant Knows, the renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz presents an intriguing and scrupulous look at how plants themselves experience the world—from the colors they see to the schedules they keep. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, he takes us into the inner lives of plants and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize. Chamovitz shows how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighbor has been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the Led Zeppelin you've been playing for them or if they're more partial to the melodic riffs of Bach. Covering touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory, Chamovitz encourages us all to consider whether plants might even be aware of their surroundings. A rare inside look at what life is really like for the grass we walk on, the flowers we sniff, and the trees we climb, What a Plant Knows offers us a greater understanding of science and our place in nature.
A captivating journey into the hidden lives of plants — from the colours they see to the schedules they keep. Join renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz as he leads a beguiling exploration of how plants experience our shared Earth — in terms of sight, smell, touch, hearing, memory, and even awareness. Combining cutting-edge research with lively storytelling, he explains the intimate details of plant behaviour, from how a willow tree knows when its neighbours have been commandeered by an army of ravenous beetles to why an avocado ripens when you give it the company of a banana in a bag. And he settles the debate over whether the beloved basil on your kitchen windowsill cares whether you play Led Zeppelin or Bach. Thoroughly updated from root to leaf, this revised edition of the groundbreaking What a Plant Knows includes new revelations for green thumbs, science buffs, vegetarians, and nature lovers. This rare inside look at what life is really like for the grass we walk on, the flowers we sniff, and the trees we climb will surprise and delight you.
How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can an orchid get jet lag? Does a tomato plant feel pain when you pluck a fruit from its vines? And does your favourite fern care whether you play Bach or the Beatles? Combining cutting-edge research with lively storytelling, biologist Daniel Chamovitz explores how plants experience our shared Earth – through sight, smell, touch, hearing, memory, and even awareness. Whether you are a green thumb, a science buff, a vegetarian, or simply a nature lover, this rare inside look at the life of plants will surprise and delight.
What is it like to be a swift, flying at over one hundred kilometres an hour? Or a kiwi, plodding flightlessly among the humid undergrowth in the pitch dark of a New Zealand night? And what is going on inside the head of a nightingale as it sings, and how does its brain improvise? Bird Sense addresses questions like these and many more, by describing the senses of birds that enable them to interpret their environment and to interact with each other. Our affinity for birds is often said to be the result of shared senses - vision and hearing - but how exactly do their senses compare with our own? And what about a birds' sense of taste, or smell, or touch or the ability to detect the earth's magnetic field? Or the extraordinary ability of desert birds to detect rain hundreds of kilometres away - how do they do it? Bird Sense is based on a conviction that we have consistently underestimated what goes on in a bird's head. Our understanding of bird behaviour is simultaneously informed and constrained by the way we watch and study them. By drawing attention to the way these frameworks both facilitate and inhibit discovery, it identifies ways we can escape from them to seek new horizons in bird behaviour. There has never been a popular book about the senses of birds. No one has previously looked at how birds interpret the world or the way the behaviour of birds is shaped by their senses. A lifetime spent studying birds has provided Tim Birkhead with a wealth of observation and an understanding of birds and their behaviour that is firmly grounded in science.
The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence
Author: Stefano Mancuso,Alessandra Viola
Publisher: Island Press
In this book, a leading plant scientist offers a new understanding of the botanical world and a passionate argument for intelligent plant life. Are plants intelligent? Can they solve problems, communicate, and navigate their surroundings? For centuries, philosophers and scientists have argued that plants are unthinking and inert, yet discoveries over the past fifty years have challenged this idea, shedding new light on the complex interior lives of plants. In Brilliant Green, leading scientist Stefano Mancuso presents a new paradigm in our understanding of the vegetal world. He argues that plants process information, sleep, remember, and signal to one another-showing that, far from passive machines, plants are intelligent and aware. Part botany lesson, part manifesto, Brilliant Green is an engaging and passionate examination of the inner workings of the plant kingdom.--
Shares strategies for expanding one's awareness of bird communication and maintaining a non-threatening presence in natural environments, explaining the sounds and behaviors that reflect various bird warnings, feelings and messages. 35,000 first printing.
How vagabond plants gatecrashed civilisation and changed the way we think about nature
Author: Richard Mabey
Publisher: Profile Books
Weeds survive, entombed in the soil, for centuries. They are as persistent and pervasive as myths. They ride out ice ages, agricultural revolutions, global wars. They mark the tracks of human movements across continents as indelibly as languages. Yet to humans they are the scourge of our gardens, saboteurs of our best-laid plans. They rob crops of nourishment, ruin the exquisite visions of garden designers, and make unpleasant and impenetrable hiding places for urban ne'er-do-wells. Weeds can be destructive and troubling, but they can also be beautiful, and they are the prototypes of most of the plants that keep us alive. Humans have grappled with their paradox for thousands of years, and with characteristic verve and lyricism, Richard Mabey uncovers some of the deeper cultural reasons behind the attitudes we have to such a huge section of the plant world.
Research is showing that plants are in constant and lively discourse--they communicate, signaling to remote organs within an individual, eavesdropping on neighboring individuals, and exchanging information with other organisms ranging from other plants to microbes to animals. Plants lack central nervous systems, and the mechanisms coordinating plant sensing, behavior, and communication are quite different from the systems that accomplish similar tasks in animals. But they are no less impressive from an evolutionary perspective. In "Plant Communication, "Karban puts an ear to the ground to reveal the world of plant communication and information sensing. He reveals their sensory capabilities, the learning capacity of plants, sensory signaling and communication, the different responses to pollinators and predators, and the mechanisms that undergird this impressive behavioral repertoire. The book shows that plants are hardly the inanimate organisms limited by their stationary existence."
Wherever there is greenery, photosynthesis is working to make oxygen, release energy, and create living matter from the raw material of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. Without photosynthesis, there would be an empty world, an empty sky, and a sun that does nothing more than warm the rocks and reflect off the sea. Eating the Sun is the story of a world in crisis; an appreciation of the importance of plants; a history of the earth and the feuds and fantasies of warring scientists; a celebration of how the smallest things, enzymes and pigments, influence the largest things, the oceans, the rainforests, and the fossil fuel economy. Oliver Morton offers a fascinating, lively, profound look at nature's greatest miracle and sounds a much-needed call to arms—illuminating a potential crisis of climatic chaos and explaining how we can change our situation, for better or for worse.
This novel book is the first to properly address the controversial issue of plant intelligence, arguing convincingly that cells and whole plants growing in competitive wild conditions exhibit aspects of plant behaviour that can be accurately described as intelligent". The author expands on three main insights drawn by the Nobel Prize winning botanist Barbara McClintock: firstly that plant cells may have knowledge of themselves; secondly that they receive challenges which lead to behavioural changes; finally, that they do so in a manner which implies assessment and intelligent behaviour. By equating the concept of intelligent behaviour with that of adaptively variable behaviour, the book provides a novel integration of signalling, behaviour, and behavioural ecology, all set within the context of plant studies. Plant Behaviour and Intelligence begins with chapters on the origins and multicellular nature of plant life, before going on to discuss novel behaviours such as branch initiation and growth, unusual behaviour of leaves, and how roots reconstruct their sensing systems and are capable of self-recognition. An entire chapter is devoted to the nature of intelligence and another to the vexed question of "consciousness", as applied to plant life. This advanced textbook will be suitable for senior undergraduate and graduate level students taking related courses in plant ecology and evolution. It will also be of relevance and use to a broader audience of professional plant ecologists seeking an authoritative reference text to help them navigate the complexity and controversy of plant behaviour."
In The Cabaret of Plants, Mabey explores the plant species which have challenged our imaginations, awoken our wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty and belief. Picked from every walk of life, they encompass crops, weeds, medicines, religious gathering-places and a water lily named after a queen. Beginning with pagan cults and creation myths, the cultural significance of plants has burst upwards, sprouting into forms as diverse as the panacea (the cure-all plant ginseng, a single root of which can cost up to $10,000), Newton's apple, the African 'vegetable elephant' or boabab - and the mystical, night-flowering Amazonian cactus, the moonflower. Ranging widely across science, art and cultural history, poetry and personal experience, Mabey puts plants centre stage, and reveals a true botanical cabaret, a world of tricksters, shape-shifters and inspired problem-solvers, as well as an enthralled audience of romantics, eccentric amateur scientists and transgressive artists. The Cabaret of Plants celebrates the idea that plants are not simply 'the furniture of the planet', but vital, inventive, individual beings worthy of respect - and that to understand this may be the best way of preserving life together on Earth.
The past century has witnessed a revolution. Less than a hundred years ago, the average Western life expectancy was 40; now it is 80. And there is no end in sight- the first person who will reach 135 has already been born. It's the most radical change in our society since industrialisation, and natural it raises many questions. What do longer life spans mean for the way we organize our societies? How can people best prepare themselves for living considerably longer? Does it help to eat less, or to take hormones, vitamins, or minerals? And what can we learn from old people who remain full of vitality, despite illness and infirmity? Growing Older without Feeling Oldis the definitive book on a key issue for the 21st century, written by one of the world's leading experts in geriatric medicine. Combining medical, biological, economic, and sociological insights, Rudi Westendorp explores the causes of the ageing revolution and explains how we can greet it with confidence and enjoy leading longer, healthier, and more productive lives than ever before.
Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering Moss is a beautifully written mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses. Robin Wall Kimmerer's book is not an identification guide, nor is it a scientific treatise. Rather, it is a series of linked personal essays that will lead general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings, from salmon and hummingbirds to redwoods and rednecks. Kimmerer clearly and artfully explains the biology of mosses, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating organisms have to teach us. Drawing on her diverse experiences as a scientist, mother, teacher, and writer of Native American heritage, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world. Gathering Moss will appeal to a wide range of readers, from bryologists to those interested in natural history and the environment, Native Americans, and contemporary nature and science writing.
Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A New York Times Bestseller Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes. Although there are more than thirty thousand species of fish—more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined—we rarely consider how individual fishes think, feel, and behave. Balcombe upends our assumptions about fishes, portraying them not as unfeeling, dead-eyed feeding machines but as sentient, aware, social, and even Machiavellian—in other words, much like us. What a Fish Knows draws on the latest science to present a fresh look at these remarkable creatures in all their breathtaking diversity and beauty. Fishes conduct elaborate courtship rituals and develop lifelong bonds with shoalmates. They also plan, hunt cooperatively, use tools, curry favor, deceive one another, and punish wrongdoers. We may imagine that fishes lead simple, fleeting lives—a mode of existence that boils down to a place on the food chain, rote spawning, and lots of aimless swimming. But, as Balcombe demonstrates, the truth is far richer and more complex, worthy of the grandest social novel. Highlighting breakthrough discoveries from fish enthusiasts and scientists around the world and pondering his own encounters with fishes, Balcombe examines the fascinating means by which fishes gain knowledge of the places they inhabit, from shallow tide pools to the deepest reaches of the ocean. Teeming with insights and exciting discoveries, What a Fish Knows offers a thoughtful appraisal of our relationships with fishes and inspires us to take a more enlightened view of the planet’s increasingly imperiled marine life. What a Fish Knows will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins—the pet goldfish included.