224 pages, b/w illustrations
Whether fighting off a hungry predator with an explosive burst of rocket fuel, or tantalizing a potential mate with a provocative perfume, organisms utilize built-in chemistry to go about their business. Animals and plants send each other warning signals and even broadcast calls for help, as well as create protective camouflage, make glue, lay trails, and poison their enemies. Bombardier Beetles and Fever Trees unravels the mystery behind these chemical weapons and communication schemes, providing a provocative study of the dynamic world of interspecies competition. In addition, author William Agosta discloses how we take advantage of many of the chemicals found in nature – from quinine, found in the bark of the fever tree and used to treat malaria, to taxol (from the Pacific yew), which is used in the treatment of breast cancer. This field of chemical ecology affects almost all aspects of life, and Bombardier Beetles and Fever Trees – the first of its kind – gives a fascinating view of these intense chemical interactions.
"You don't even need a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry to enjoy this tour of the chemical compounds found in the natural world. [the book] explains the biological roles that these changing chemicals play, doubling as an introduction to the field of chemical ecology for the general reader. There is plenty here for chemists or, indeed, biologists who lack any great familiarity with natural history."
– New Scientist
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