Biodiversity is a hot topic, both politically and scientifically. E. 0. Wilson is in the thick of things; he has authored four books, co-authored a fifth, and edited the volume Biodiversity. He is an eminent entomologist, one of the foremost authorities on ants, distinguished professor at Harvard University, and winner of two Pulitzer prizes. He is a respected scientist who has gone beyond the limits of "pure" or "academic'' research. he is a man with a mission and a message: to teach understanding of the natural world and, further, to inspire appreciation and stewardship of it. his new book, the diversity of life could be considered a textbook on biodiversity.
the first section, "Biodiversity Rising," is a presentation of relevant ecological concepts of biodiversity. for instance, 1. what is a species? 2. how do species arise and disappear? 3. what does evolution show about the history of species? admittedly, some of this is fairly technical material, but wilson uses a variety of concrete examples and dazzling art work to sustain interest.
the second section, "The Human Impact," examines how the human species affects the evolutionary structure already established. wilson is a scientist and documents with information, research and case studies. his message is that humans are destroying species and habitats at an unprecedented rate. his hope is to inspire the care, concern, and interest of scientists, future scientists, and just plain people.
although wilson's message in the diversity of life is not a new one, his work is the most accessible and encyclopedic to date. the notes on resources and further reading are useful, the glossary is meticulous, the graphics and artwork are outstanding. the diversity of life can be relied on as a reference, it can be used as a text, or it can be read as a conversation with one of the foremost scientist of our day.