The Ptarmigan's Dilemma: An Exploration Into how Life Organizes and Supports Itself

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McClelland & Stewart, 2010 - Science - 401 pages
3 Reviews
Winner of the 2010 Lane Anderson Award

Drawing on breakthrough research in evolution, genetics, and on their extensive work in the field and lab, wildlife biologists John and Mary Theberge explain for non-scientists the real facts of life.

Birds that suddenly grow gall bladders, when their species has none. Moose with antlers so big they encumber their movement through the forest. Butterflies that risk extinction by overwintering en masse. These are just a few stories the Theberges tell in their examination of what the mechanisms of evolution are and how they work. With examples from the very latest discoveries in genetics and ones they have made in their own field work, The Ptarmigan's Dilemma is a ground-breaking explanation of evolution for non-scientists.

By marrying the separate sciences of ecology and genetics, the Theberges paint a picture far richer than either discipline can alone of how, for almost 4 billion years, life on Earth has evolved into the rich diversity that's under threat today. Along the way, they explain just what "the survival of the fittest" really means, how dramatic evolutionary changes can take place in just one generation, and how our too-little knowledge of or interest in how life on Earth organizes and supports itself is rapidly making us a danger to ourselves.

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Review: The Ptarmigan's Dilemma: An Exploration into How Life Organizes and Supports Itself

User Review  - Graeme Stuart Waymark - Goodreads

Excellent book; this is not a novel but a scientific book on natural and unnatural selection, mutation, latency and potential in the animal and plant kingdom of our planet. It can be read, re-read and ... Read full review

Review: The Ptarmigan's Dilemma: An Exploration into How Life Organizes and Supports Itself

User Review  - Richard Thompson - Goodreads

Interesting case studies. Raises some interesting questions about the “proper” place of humans in the grand scheme of things. Read full review

About the author (2010)

JOHN THEBERGE and MARY THEBERGE have spent more than thirty years conducting field research in the Yukon, Labrador, and British Columbia, and especially in Algonquin Park, Ontario. They have collaborated on many scientific and popular articles and were jointly awarded the 1994 Equinox Citation for Environmental Achievement.

John B. Theberge was until his recent retirement a professor of ecology and resource management in the faculty of environment studies at the University of Waterloo, where he taught since 1970. Mary Theberge is a wildlife illustrator and wolf researcher and has presented many popular programs about their discoveries. They are the authors of several books, including Kluane: Pinnacle of the Yukon, Wolf Country, and Legacy: A Natural History of Ontario.

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