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The Behavioural Ecology of Ants, by John H. Sudd and Nigel R. Franks

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The Behavioural Ecology of Ants

by John H. Sudd and Nigel R. Franks

ISBN = 0 216 92246 1
Price Hbk= £59.00, Pbk = £19.99
Published = 1987
Review written = 10th/Aug/1997
206 pages
Ants are an insect group that everyone knows and many are fascinated by. Although there are only about 12 000 species world wide as individuals they are numerous in temperate climes and everywhere in the tropics. It has been estimated that 10% of the animal biomass on this planet is ants and it has been said of Brazil that its real owners are the ants.
What makes ants so successful, and what makes them so fascinating is there complicated and intricate social life. This book is written by two world class myrmecologists as a text aimed primarily at undergraduate level students and above. However it will be essential reading for all dedicated ant fans with or without a degree. I certainly read, and enjoyed, this book when it first came out as an amateur naturalist who was keeping ants in his living room, several years before I returned to full time education as a mature student to gain my degree. If you have already some idea concerning what ants are about, and want to know more then this book is an excellent place to start. Some of the concepts in chapter 1 are a little difficult to grasp at first but it is worth making the effort because understanding them is essential to understanding the intricacies of insect, and particularly ant, social life. Being a text, "The Behavioural Ecology of Ants" should, and I think does touch on, in some detail, all the main contributory factors controlling ant behaviour, drawing on examples from all around the world to illustrate the ideas and concepts expressed in the text.

"The Behavioural Ecology of Ants" contains the following chapters: Social Behaviour as a Selfish Strategy, The Phylogeny of Ants, Ant Economics, Who does What, and When, Communication, Ants as Partners, Ants Exploiting Ants, Ant Ecology. Obviously in 200 A5 pages this is not a work to compete with Holldöbler and Wilson's "The Ants", but then at 20 pounds for the Pbk it is also much more affordable. All in all this small but informative book must be an essential ingredient for all libraries in the English speaking world.
Recommended

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