Melanism: Evolution in Action

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9780198549826: Melanism: Evolution in Action

Melanism: Evolution in Action describes a ubiquitous biological phenomenon, the existence of dark forms of many species of mammals, insects, and some plants. Melanism is a particularly important phenomenon for understanding evolution. Unlike many polymorphisms, the rise of a melanic population within a species can be identified easily and often occurs quickly. Examples of melanism include one of the most famous illustrations of natural selection, the peppered moth. This beautifully illustrated book, the first on melanism since 1973, gives a lucid and up-to-date appraisal of the subject. The first four chapters place melanism in historical and scientific context, giving numerous examples and an overview of physical and genetic properties. The next five chapters focus on melanism in moths and ladybugs; they examine the diverse evolutionary reasons for melanism and uncover some of the complexities behind this apparently simple phenomenon. The final chapter looks at the important role melanism plays in evolutionary biology. Written in an engaging and readable style, this book will have broad appeal to students and researchers in evolution, ecology, entomology, and genetics.

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About the Author:

Michael Majerus began collecting butterflies and moths when he was four. His fascination with this Group, and in particular their value in studying evolution, has spanned almost forty years, and dominated his professional career. He has written over 100 scientific papers and three books on these subjects, and regularly appears on television and radio. A fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, he currently works as a lecturer in the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge, where he is researching melanic polymorphism in moths and ladybirds. Michael Majerus, Department of Genetics, Downing St., Cambridge, C.B.2 3E.H. Tel. 01223-333983; Fax. 01223-333992; email: menm@mole.bio.cam.ac.uk.

Review:


"A general discussion of melanism, whose centerpiece is a reanalysis of the evolution of industrial melanism in Biston betularia. Majerus shows us that the textbook version is wrong in many respects..." --Evolution


"From time to time, evolutionists re-examine a classic experimental study and find, to their horror, that it is flawed or downright wrong. . . . Until now . . . the prize horse in our stable of examples has been the evolution of industrial melanism in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, presented by most teachers and textbooks as the paradigm of natural selection and evolution occurring within a human lifetime. The reexamination of this tale is the centrepiece of Michael Majerus's book . . . the Biston analysis is necessary reading for all evolutionists, as are the introductory chapters on the nature of melanism, its distribution among animals, and its proposed causes."--Nature


"The classical example of natural selection at work concerns melanism (the occurrence of dark forms). Probably all biologists have heard about 'the peppered moth story', first published by Kettlewell in Heredity. . . . Michael Majerus dissects the story in his book on melanism and shows that it is more complex and fascinating than most biologists will have realized. . . . The book is . . . very readableD Ssomething which cannot be said of many books containing so much interesting scientific material."--Heredity


"Placing melanism into its historical and scientific context, the author considers the diversity of melanism in the animal and plant worlds, and its physical and genetic properties. Examining melanism in moths and ladybeetles in detail, he explores the diversity of evolutionary reasons for melanism and the complexities underlying this phenomenon."--Entomological News


"[T]he classic example of natural selection in action: namely, the evolution of industrial melanism in the peppered moth (Biston betularia). . . . The familiarity of this example to students . . . is proof enough of its importance. However, perhaps even more significantly, the example has been used by philosophers as a tool to think about evolutionary issues . . . and by popularizers of science to explain to nonscientists what modern evolution is all about . . . Chapters 5 and 6, which recount and then critically dissect the classic example of industrial melanism, are the most novel of the book. Majerus acknowledges the difficulties with the classic example and details the major elements in the story, some of which are seriously flawed. . . . Majerus's book . . . is a 'must' for every library. Furthermore, certain chapters should be read by every person who teaches and every philosopher who analyzes evolutionary biology and the nature of science."--BioScience


"Melanin is a ubiquitous pigment in living organisms and one of its forms is black in color. True melanism is considered to be black individuals in a species where other colors are the norm. . . . Majerus examines many examples of darkening to develop his ideas about melanism and evolution. He builds on the famous work of Kettlewell who showed that the degree of melanism in peppered moth populations in England changed as pollution changed the color of tree trunks where the moths rested. The text reveals natural selection in action using examples primarily from moths and ladybird beetles. Melanism is well illustrated with a section of color plates plus numerous black and white photos, graphs, tables and maps. The book includes a glossary for the uninitiated and an extensive reference section for the researcher. Majerus succeeds in his goal of writing a scientifically valuable book that is accessible to a curious lay-person."--Wildlife Activist


"Majerus provides an excellent introduction to the nature, distribution, and cause of melanism (the increase of dark pigments in organisms). His reexamination of 'industrial melanism' in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, shows that this classic example of natural selection (first for, and later against, darker moths) is far more complex than the story of pollution and predation told in textbooks."--Science


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Majerus, M.
Verlag: Oxford University Press (1998)
ISBN 10: 0198549822 ISBN 13: 9780198549826
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PEMBERLEY NATURAL HISTORY BOOKS BA
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Buchbeschreibung Oxford University Press, 1998. Buchzustand: Very Good. xiii, 338, 8 col plates, b/w illus, line drawings. . PB. Vg. Describes investigations into a ubiquitous biological phenomenon, the existence of dark, or melanic, forms of many species of mammals, insects, and some plants. Melanism is a particularly exciting phenomenon in terms of our understanding of evolution. Unlike many other polymorphisms, the rise of a melanic population within a species is a visible alteration. Not only this, but melanism may sometimes occur dramatically quickly compared to other evolutionary change. Examples of melanism include one of the most famous illustrations of Darwinian natural selection, the peppered moth. This book, the first written on melanism since 1973, gives a lucid and up-to-date appraisal of the subject. The book is divided into ten chapters. The first four chapters place melanism into its historical and scientific context, with illustrations of its occurrence, and physical and genetic properties. Chapters 5-9 look in more detail at melanism in moths and ladybirds, explaining the diversity of evolutionary reasons for melanism, and the complexities underlying this apparently simple phenomenon. The final chapter shows how the study of melanism has contibuted to our understanding of biological evolution as a whole. Written in an engaging and readable style, by an author whose enthusiasm and depth of knowledge is apparent throughout, this book will be welcomed by all students and researchers in the fields of evolution, ecology, entomology, and genetics. It will also be of relevance to professional and amateur entomologists and lepidopterists alike. [9780198549826]. Artikel-Nr. 33135

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