Deserts as laboratories of evolution

Ellis, Allan G. (2011-10)

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For most of us the appeal of deserts lies in the barren, bleak, monotonous landscapes that characterise them. What we sometimes forget though, is that the harsh abiotic environment, and the resulting spatial and temporal variability in severely limiting resources, necessitates a suite of fascinating, and even bizarre, adaptations in the life forms which occupy them. David Ward uses this notion of deserts as evolutionary laboratories as the thread that ties together the wide range of topics he covers in his book, The biology of deserts. The book is part of The Biology of Habitats series from Oxford University Press, which endeavours to provide integrated overviews of many of the globe’s habitats, focusing on the ecology and adaptations of the organisms which inhabit them. Ward’s contribution achieves these objectives, presenting a broad overview of the (often underappreciated) desert habitat, and the fascinating strategies of the plants and animals that manage to survive there.

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