An illuminating account of animal migration and the stunning new science that reveals the source of their infinite, untapped knowledge. What do animals know that we don't? Why do rats flee before an earthquake and birds before a hurricane? In The Internet of Animals, renowned scientist Martin Wikelski convincingly argues that animals possess a unique "sixth sense" that humans are only beginning to grasp ...
All we need to do is give animals a voice and our perception of the world could change forever. That's what author Martin Wikelski and his team of scientists believe and this book shares their story for the first time. As they tag animals around the world with minuscule tracking devices, they link their movements to a space station that taps into the 'internet of animals': an astonishing network of information made up of thousands of animals communicating with each other and their environments.
Down on the ground, Wikelski describes animals' sixth sense first-hand. On Africa's Serengeti plains, he watches columns of migrating wildebeests and zebras stretching 50 miles long, with each animal knowing the quality of grass consumed at the front of the line – even those straggling behind. In South America, Flamingoes head south just when they sense the weather changing thousands of miles away in the Andes. And in Angola, a flock of cuckoos meet only to separate – one going to the UK, one to Western Russia, and the other to Mongolia – based on unique information about each destination.
As Wikelski shares his deep love of animals and what they can tell us, he describes each group's unique culture. Yes, animals have culture, just like humans. Their migratory rhythms are not triggered by genes encoded in their DNA but by elaborate cultures that are long established. What does this mean for us? It means that, by paying attention to animal cultures, we can learn more about our environments. We can better prepare for natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. Most of all, we can learn to live alongside animals in harmony for the betterment of our future, their future, and the future of the planet.
1. From the Prairie to Space and Back
2. The Bird Information Highway
3. A Little Ovenbird Makes Us Think Again
4. The Early Days of Tracking
5. Walking Like a Cowboy
6. Our Sputnik Moment
7. Rats! Still So Much to Learn
8. The Long March to ICARUS
9. Switching Back to Europe
10. Who's in Charge?
11. The ICARUS Design Starts
12. Tagging Animals in the Field
13. Getting Closer to Launch
14. Finally, We Have Liftoff
15. The Rocky Road of Tag Development
16. All Systems Go-or Not
17. Animals at Play
18. Putin Invades Ukraine
19. Cosmic Ideas from Aristotle to Humboldt
20. Berta, the Earthquake Cow
21. The Internet of Animals
Martin Wikelski is the director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and honorary professor of ornithology at the University of Konstanz. Previously, he was a research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, assistant professor at the University of Illinois and associate professor at Princeton.
Keith Gaddis is the program manager for NASA's Biological Diversity and Ecological Forecasting programs. An ecologist and biogeographer by training, he is a vocal advocate for the use of science in public decision-making.
"Wildlife is in steep decline on every continent. New tools like the marvels described in this book will help, and so will a new consciousness those tools might create: the real sense of what an honor and privilege it is to share our planet with the wondrous rest of creation."
– Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
"An accessible, exciting story full of cutting-edge science brought to life through personal experience focusing on the author's central question: how can we best understand and protect the network of life on this planet with all its diversity and complexity?"
– Klaus Hahlbrock, former vice president of the Max Planck Society and author of Feeding the Planet: Environmental Protection through Sustainable Agriculture"
Martin's story has the immediacy of an engaging private conversation. Enriched with enchanting vignettes of animal behavior, the book concludes with an optimistic, if idealistic, vision of our future. It is compelling, deeply thoughtful reading that leaves the reader with much to ponder. We strongly recommended the book to all those who seek a better world that respects and learns from nature."
– Peter and Rosemary Grant, authors of 40 Years of Evolution: Darwin's Finches on Daphne Major Island