Cover image for Evolution on planet earth : the impact of the physical environment
Evolution on planet earth : the impact of the physical environment
Rothschild, Lynn J.
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego, CA : Academic Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 438 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH366.2 .E862 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Driving evolution forward, the Earth's physical environment has challenged the very survival of organisms and ecosystems throughout the ages. With a fresh new perspective, Evolution on Planet Earth shows how these physical realities and hurdles shaped the primary phases of life on the planet. The book's thorough coverage also includes chapters on more proximate factors and paleoenvironmental events that influenced the diversity of life. A team of notable ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and paleontologists join forces to describe drifting continents, extinction events, and climate change -- important topics that continue to shape Earth's inhabitants to this very day. In a world where global change has become an international issue, this book provides a several billion-year evolutionary perspective on what the environment and environmental change means to life.

Author Notes

Lynn J. Rothschild, a Research Scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, is immersed in the field of Astrobiology. She has broad training in biology, with degrees from Yale University, Indiana University, and Brown University. At NASA her research has focused on how life has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere. She has studied carbon metabolism and DNA damage and repair in algal mats, work that has taken her to field sites in Baja, Yellowstone National Park and thermal areas on New Zealand. As a result of this work she has become an acknowledged authority in the study of extremophiles, and wrote an invited review on them for Nature (2001). Recent honors have included election to the Presidency of the Social of Protozoologists, founding editor of the International Journal of Astrobiology, and a fellow of the Linnean Society of London. She has made several television and radio appearances, including on the Discovery Channel and World News Tonight, and lectures worldwide including most recently at the Vatican Observatory.

Adrian Lister is Professor Palaeobiology at University College London. After a degree in Zoology from the University of Cambridge, he began research on Quaternary (Ice Age) mammals and their evolution. Today he is acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on the biology and evolution of the mammoth and other ice-age species. He has worked on many excavations and fossil collections around the world, and has recently also become active in the field of elephant conservation. He has published over 100 scientific papers and the highly acclaimed book (with Paul G. Bahn) 'Mammoths'. He is on the Council of the Linnean Society of London and is a member of the Elephant working Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 1998 he was awarded the Stopes Medal of the Geologists' Association for research into the environment of early Man.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Physical and chemical parameters within in which life has existed on this planet have had many effects on the course of evolution. This work endeavors to discuss some of the topics that are often obscured or ignored in basic works about evolution and provides an accessible review of research into the complex effects that the physical environment has had on evolutionary history. Chapters are written by different authors and separated into seven parts of greatly varying length. The authors are primarily from European and North American universities. Each chapter begins with an abstract; there are many simple diagrams, many charts, and a few photographic plates incorporated into the work, all varying widely in the degree to which they enhance the discussion. Each chapter contains an ample number of citations, including both recent and older research. The glossary is geared to the level of a lower-division undergraduate or general reader. Although this work could be used as an undergraduate textbook, it is more likely to be used by students interested in evolution. It is recommended for libraries supporting undergraduate programs in biology, but it may be of broader interest since the abiotic subjects covered are often studied in chemistry and geology. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. J. Cummings Washington State University

Table of Contents

The Physical Setting for Early Life
An Evolutionary Perspective of Nitrogen Fixation
The Coupled Evolution of Life and Atmospheric Oxygen
Chemistry of the Early Oceans
The Role of Carbon Dioxide in Plant
Evolution Solar Energy and Life
Could Life Travel across Interplanetary Space?
Genome Evolution and the Impact of the Physical Environment
The Impact of Gravity on Life Gravity, the Atmosphere and the Evolution of Animal Locomotion
Evolution and Low Temperatures Temperature, Tectonics, and Evolution
The Interplay of Physical and Biotic Factors in Macroevolution
The Causes of Phanerozoic Extinctions Drifting Continents and Life on Earth
Land-Sea Relations and Speciation in the Marine and Terrestrial
Realms Tectonics, Climatic Change, and the Evolution of Mammalian Ecosystems
Ice Ages, Species Distributions, and Evolution Environmental Variability and Its Impace on Adaptive Evolution, with Special Reference to Human Origins
The Younger Dryas, Climatic Change, and the Beginnings of Agriculture
The Physical Constraints on Extraterrestrial Life