Science, Nature & Math Environment & Ecology Books

Bird Species: How They Arise, Modify and Vanish (Fascinating Life Sciences)

The average person can name more bird species than they think, but do we really know what a bird “species” is? This open access book takes up several fascinating aspects of bird life to elucidate this basic concept in biology. From genetic and physiological basics to the phenomena of bird song and bird migration, it analyzes various interactions of birds – with their environment and other birds. Lastly, it shows imminent threats to birds in the Anthropocene, the era of global human impact.Although it seemed to be easy to define bird species, the advent of modern methods has challenged species definition and led to a multidisciplinary approach to classifying birds. One outstanding new toolbox comes with the more and more reasonably priced acquisition of whole-genome sequences that allow causative analyses of how bird species diversify.Speciation has reached a final stage when daughter species are reproductively isolated, but this stage is not easily detectable from the phenotype we observe. Culturally transmitted traits such as bird song seem to speed up speciation processes, while another behavioral trait, migration, helps birds to find food resources, and also coincides with higher chances of reaching new, inhabitable areas. In general, distribution is a major key to understanding speciation in birds. Examples of ecological speciation can be found in birds, and the constant interaction of birds with their biotic environment also contributes to evolutionary changes. In the Anthropocene, birds are confronted with rapid changes that are highly threatening for some species. Climate change forces birds to move their ranges, but may also disrupt well-established interactions between climate, vegetation, and food sources.This book brings together various disciplines involved in observing bird species come into existence, modify, and vanish. It is a rich resource for bird enthusiasts who want to understand various processes at the cutting edge of current research in more detail. At the same time it offers students the opportunity to see primarily unconnected, but booming big-data approaches such as genomics and biogeography meet in a topic of broad interest. Lastly, the book enables conservationists to better understand the uncertainties surrounding “species” as entities of protection.

Climate-Smart Food

This open access book asks just how climate-smart our food really is. It follows an average day's worth of food and drink to see where it comes from, how far it travels, and the carbon price we all pay for it. From our breakfast tea and toast, through breaktime chocolate bar, to take-away supper, Dave Reay explores the weather extremes the world’s farmers are already dealing with, and what new threats climate change will bring. Readers will encounter heat waves and hurricanes, wildfires and deadly toxins, as well as some truly climate-smart solutions. In every case there are responses that could cut emissions while boosting resilience and livelihoods. Ultimately we are all in this together, our decisions on what food we buy and how we consume it send life-changing ripples right through the global web that is our food supply. As we face a future of 10 billion mouths to feed in a rapidly changing climate, it’s time to get to know our farmers and herders, our vintners and fisherfolk, a whole lot better.

Biofuels and Sustainability: Holistic Perspectives for Policy-making (Science for Sustainable Societies)

This open access book presents a comprehensive analysis of biofuel use strategies from an interdisciplinary perspective using sustainability science. This interdisciplinary perspective (social science-natural science) means that the strategies and policy options proposed will have significant impacts on the economy and society alike. Biofuels are expected to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, revitalizing economies in agricultural communities and alleviating poverty. However, despite these anticipated benefits, international organizations such as the FAO, OECD and UN have published reports expressing concerns that biofuel promotion may lead to deforestation, water pollution and water shortages. The impacts of biofuel use are extensive, cross-sectoral and complex, and as such, comprehensive analyses are required in order to assess the extent to which biofuels can contribute to sustainable societies. Applying interdisciplinary sustainability science concepts and methodologies, the book helps to enhance the establishment of a sustainable society as well as the development of appropriate responses to a global need for urgent action on current issues related to biofuels.