Cloth $28.00 ISBN: 9780226757711 Published November 2005
Paper $16.00 ISBN: 9780226757728 Published August 2008
E-book $7.00 to $16.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226757773 Published November 2008

Demons in Eden

The Paradox of Plant Diversity

Jonathan Silvertown

Jonathan Silvertown

192 pages | 8 color plates | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 2005
Cloth $28.00 ISBN: 9780226757711 Published November 2005
Paper $16.00 ISBN: 9780226757728 Published August 2008
E-book $7.00 to $16.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226757773 Published November 2008
At the heart of evolution lies a bewildering paradox. Natural selection favors above all the individual that leaves the most offspring—a superorganism of sorts that Jonathan Silvertown here calls the "Darwinian demon." But if such a demon existed, this highly successful organism would populate the entire world with its own kind, beating out other species and eventually extinguishing biodiversity as we know it. Why then, if evolution favors this demon, is the world filled with so many different life forms? What keeps this Darwinian demon in check? If humankind is now the greatest threat to biodiversity on the planet, have we become the Darwinian demon?

Demons in Eden considers these questions using the latest scientific discoveries from the plant world. Readers join Silvertown as he explores the astonishing diversity of plant life in regions as spectacular as the verdant climes of Japan, the lush grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the shallow wetlands and teeming freshwaters of Florida, the tropical rainforests of southeast Mexico, and the Canary Islands archipelago, whose evolutionary novelties—and exotic plant life—have earned it the sobriquet "the Galapagos of botany." Along the way, Silvertown looks closely at the evolution of plant diversity in these locales and explains why such variety persists in light of ecological patterns and evolutionary processes. In novel and useful ways, he also investigates the current state of plant diversity on the planet to show the ever-challenging threats posed by invasive species and humans.

Bringing the secret life of plants into more colorful and vivid focus than ever before, Demons in Eden is an empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology that unlocks evolutionary mysteries of the natural world.
John Hopkins | English Nature Magazine
"[Silvertown] writes in a style which is both engaging and entertaining, and discusses some of the most significant plant conservation issue of the day. . . . This book is a testament to the important role of English scientists in developing understanding of plant diversity and an altogether good read."
Contents
Preface
1. An Evolving Eden
2. The Tree of Trees
3. Succulent Isles
4. Demon Mountain
5. The Panama Paradox
6. Nix Nitch
7. Liebig's Revenge
8. Florida!
9. New Demons?
10. The End of Eden?
Scientific Names of Plants Mentioned in the Text
Sources and Further Reading
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style |

Chicago Blog: Biology

Events in Biology

Keep Informed

JOURNALs in Biology