How Many Things by Season Season’d Are

Jackson, Sue (2009-10)

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People born between June and September in the southern hemisphere are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia than those born in other months; a quarter of the entire genome of Arabidopsis thaliana (a cress plant) is devoted to sensing and responding to environmental changes; and human basal metabolic rate drops to 40% of normal values during starvation. These are some of the many remarkable facts that I learned while reading this book, which successfully unites wideranging discussions of plant phenology, animal behaviour and evolutionary physiology; the seasonality of human disorders as diverse as malaria and seasonal affective disorder; and the timing of crime and of human reproductive rhythms—all in the context of climate change. This is the second book by the neurobiologist/ science writer team that produced a wellreceived description of circadian rhythms, Rhythms of Life, in 2004. Seasons of Life takes a wider perspective, addressing organisms’ anticipation of and responses to the environmental changes that follow seasonal rather than daily rhythms.Many biologists will share the authors’ concluding wish for a better understanding of biological rhythms, in the hope that this might improve our chances of slowing down the accelerating extinction rate resulting from climate change.

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