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Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Evolution

How Birds Evolve What Science Reveals about Their Origin, Lives & Diversity

New Paperback
By: Douglas J Futuyma(Author)
303 pages, 32 plates with 48 colour photos; 67 b/w photos and b/w illustrations, 4 tables
NHBS
A multifaceted synthesis showing how evolution helps us understand bird diversity.
How Birds Evolve
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  • How Birds Evolve ISBN: 9780691182629 Hardback Jan 2022 In stock
    £28.00
    #253492
  • How Birds Evolve ISBN: 9780691264639 Paperback 07 Jan 2025 Available for pre-order
    £18.99
    #264662
Selected version: £28.00
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About this book

How Birds Evolve explores how evolution has shaped the distinctive characteristics and behaviours we observe in birds today. Douglas Futuyma describes how evolutionary science illuminates the wonders of birds, ranging over topics such as the meaning and origin of species, the evolutionary history of bird diversity, and the evolution of avian reproductive behaviours, plumage ornaments, and social behaviours.

In this multifaceted book, Futuyma examines how birds evolved from nonavian dinosaurs and reveals what we can learn from the "family tree" of birds. He looks at the ways natural selection enables different forms of the same species to persist, and discusses how adaptation by natural selection accounts for the diverse life histories of birds and the rich variety of avian parenting styles, mating displays, and cooperative behaviours. He explains why some parts of the planet have so many more species than others, and asks what an evolutionary perspective brings to urgent questions about bird extinction and habitat destruction. Along the way, Futuyma provides an insider's perspective on how biologists practice evolutionary science, from studying the fossil record to comparing DNA sequences among and within species.

A must-read for bird enthusiasts and curious naturalists, How Birds Evolve shows how evolutionary biology helps us better understand birds and their natural history, and how the study of birds has informed all aspects of evolutionary science since the time of Darwin.

Customer Reviews (1)

  • Heavy science of taxonomy explained
    By Keith 11 Sep 2022 Written for Hardback
    Doug Futuyma is a renowned ecologist and evolutionary biologist from New York, and is also a well-travelled birder. In this book he explains a lot of the background to taxonomy; for example, why is one group of birds closely related to another that may not seem particularly similar? The book has 12 chapters which start by explaining some of the main concepts in taxonomy and the use of DNA in establishing relationships. Several chapters explore the connections between evolution and bird behaviour, species distribution and the future of birds. Doug gives some fascinating examples and reminds us of how birds have been around for 150 million years and have faced climate change on many occasions. Over 100 species have become extinct since 1500, but that is just a flicker of time and since they first navigated the planet, thousands of bird species have disappeared. Overall, Doug is a storyteller, and while much of what he addresses in this book is heavy science, if you like to get stuck into things that you don’t fully understand and are challenging then this book may well be just for you.
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Biography

Douglas Futuyma is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, State University of New York. His books include Evolution and Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

New Paperback
By: Douglas J Futuyma(Author)
303 pages, 32 plates with 48 colour photos; 67 b/w photos and b/w illustrations, 4 tables
NHBS
A multifaceted synthesis showing how evolution helps us understand bird diversity.
Media reviews

"Terrific [...] Futuyma writes an accessible overview of bird evolution that lay readers, especially birders, will be able to understand."
BirdWatching

"[Futuyma] skillfully weaves together salient themes of evolutionary biology from the living aviary, stressing the important role that birds played in advancing our understanding of evolution."
– Alan Feduccia, Science

"This engaging and wide-ranging summary of virtually every aspect of avian evolution synthesizes the earliest insights from Darwin to those of modern phylogenetics, using birds to illustrate each concept. [...] [Futuyma] may be the ideal person to explain the marvels of bird evolution."
– Daniel S. Cooper, The Quarterly Review of Biology

"How Birds Evolve is accessible, exhilarating science for everyone – amateur birder, professional naturalist or just the average man. It's a great book and one to read over and over and I thoroughly recommend it to all. This is already my Bird Book of 2022 and I can't see it being bettered."
– Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog

"How Birds Evolve is a book full of accessible and exhilarating science for everyone and not just birders and professional naturalists. It's simply a stunning book and one to read numerous times and an example of the amalgamation of science and nature writing at its finest and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone."
– Roy Stewart, British Naturalists Association

"The delight is in the detail [...] Futuyma unpacks the story of evolutionary science alongside the story of how birds evolved [...] [How Birds Evolve] is entertaining and passionate."
– Simon Ings, New Scientist

"[Futuyma's] life-long passion and competence guide us across the pages of this book with a hint of humour."
– Gaia Bazz, Community Ecology

"A must-read for birders and biologists alike. Douglas Futuyma has written a brilliant synthesis of the evolutionary dynamics of world birds."
– Frank B. Gill, coauthor of Ornithology

"For any bird-watcher intrigued by the multiplicity of colors, forms, and behaviors of birds, this book provides thought-provoking insights into how and why such diversity arose and is maintained. Written by a renowned evolutionary biologist, How Birds Evolve will not only enlighten bird aficionados but will inspire readers to transfer this knowledge to other organisms and encourage us all to conserve the unique biodiversity of our fragile planet."
– B. Rosemary Grant, coauthor of 40 Years of Evolution: Darwin's Finches on Daphne Major Island

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