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Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating

by Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L. Craig
New Haven [CT]: Yale University Press, 2010. 248 pages.

Reviewer Joe Lapp writes, “Spider Silk is written for the layperson. It requires no advanced knowledge of spiders, biology, or evolution. It strives to provide all the background a reader might need.

Freaks of Nature: What Anomalies Tell Us about Development and Evolution

by Mark S. Blumberg
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 352 pages.

The purpose of Freaks of Nature, writes reviewer Paul R. Gross, is “to present insights from evolutionary developmental biology …

Evolution: The Basics

by Sherrie Lyons
New York: Routledge, 2011. 200 pages.

“With only seven chapters and 177 pages of text, Evolution: The Basics is true to its title, offering an abbreviated and basic introduction to evolutionary thought,” writes reviewer Daniel J. Fairbanks.

The Evidence for Evolution

by Alan R. Rogers
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. 120 pages.

Describing it as a “fresh and splendid little book,” reviewer Warren D. Allmon praises The Evidence for Evolution for focusing on the evidence for evolution, explaining, “By far the best feature of this book … is its focus on precisely why such indirect evidence actually favors evolution over its alternatives.

In the Light of Evolution: Essays from the Laboratory and Field

edited by Jonathan Losos
Greenwood Village (CO): Roberts and Company, 2011. 330 pages.

Reviewer Marvalee H. Wake describes In the Light of Evolution as “a wonderfully rich and diverse collection of essays that illustrate the way evolutionary biologists think and work—how they develop questions and hypotheses about evolution and how it occurs, how they test their hypotheses, why both lab and field work are important to resolution of many questions, and why the answers usually open new questions—and why that is useful for the progress of science.

Evolution: The Extended Synthesis

by Massimo Pigliucci and Gerd Müller
Cambridge [MA]: MIT Press, 2010. 504 pages.

According to reviewer Anya Plutynski, “This engaging volume surveys novel empirical and theoretical advances in biology since the Modern Synthesis, some of which add to, and some challenge, its central tenets.” The project is to extend the synthesis to include patterns and processes often considered to be at the margins of the theory, such as epigenetic inheritance, niche inheritance, facilitated variations, plasticity, and evolvability; the review focuses on the last two of these. Plutyns

Life from an RNA World: The Ancestor Within

by Michael Yarus
Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 2010. 208 pages.

“Yarus takes on an ambitious task,” reviewer Arthur G. Hunt explains, “to summarize the excitement and curiosity of RNA research for a broad audience that includes the informed lay public as well as life scientists. On top of this, he is faced with the unenviable but inescapable task of explaining some of the fastest-moving and -changing areas in science.

Am I a Monkey? Six Big Questions about Evolution

by Francisco J. Ayala
Baltimore (MD): The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. 104 pages.

Ayala is eminently qualified to write such a book, reviewer Joel W. Martin observes, especially because of his irenic attitude toward faith. The book is “well-written, accurate, and concise, and it covers the main points of biological evolution likely to be questioned by non-specialists,” although two of the questions Ayala addresses (What is DNA? and How Did Life Begin?) strike Martin as somewhat out of place.

The Theory of Island Biogeography

by Robert H MacArthur and Edward O Wilson
Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press, 2001. 224 pages.

From the jacket copy of the 2001 edition, with a new preface by Wilson: “In this book, the authors developed a general theory to explain the facts of island biogeography. The theory builds on the first principles of population ecology and genetics to explain how distance and area combine to regulate the balance between immigration and extinction in island populations. The authors then test the theory against data. ...

The Theory of Island Biogeography Revisited

edited by Jonathan B Losos and Robert E Ricklefs
Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press, 2009. 494 pages.

Almost half a century after the publication of The Theory of Island Biogeography, the contributors to Losos and Ricklefs’s collection — including Wilson himself, with his retrospective essay “Island biogeography in the 1960s” — take a look back at MacArthur and Wilson’s seminal work and a look forward at new directions and dimensions for the field.

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