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All bodily activity is the result of the interplay of vastly complex physiological processes, and all of these processes depend on temperature. For insects, the struggle to keep body temperature within a suitable range for activity and competition is often a matter of life and death.
A few studies of temperature regulation in butterflies can be found dating back to the late 1800s, but only recently have scientists begun to study the phenomenon in other insects. In The Thermal Warriors Bernd Heinrich explains how, when, and in general what insects regulate their body temperature and what it means to them. As he shows us, the ingenuity of the survival strategies insects have evolved in the irreducible crucible of temperature is astonishing: from shivering and basking, the construction of turrets (certain tiger beetles), and cooling with liquid feces to stilting (some desert ants and beetles), "panting" in grasshoppers and "sweating cicada," and counter- and alternating-currents of blood flow for heat retention and heat loss.
In The Thermal Warriors Heinrich distills his great reference work, The Hot-Blooded Insects, to its essence: the most significant and fascinating stories that illustrate general principles, all conveyed in the always engaging prose we have come to expect from this author.
Heinrich Bernd :
Bernd Heinrich is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Vermont. He has written several memoirs of his life in science and nature, including One Man’s Owl, and Ravens in Winter. Bumblebee Economics was twice a nominee for the American Book Award in Science, and A Year in the Maine Woods won the 1995 Rutstrum Authors’ Award for Literary Excellence.
Unlike the fast-twitch muscle athletes, endurance athletes like Bernd Heinrich and myself train and race in considerable weather extremes and have to adapt as best we can. As a former collector of butterflies and someone who loves wildlife and nature, I was fascinated by Bernd Heinrich's study of how insects have ingeniously evolved to survive extreme weather conditions. This book left me with increased respect for these tiny warriors.
For those of us who are already fans, this is a splendid addition to our Bernd Heinrich shelves; for those who have not yet read him, this is a good book with which to begin.
Bernd Heinrich is one of those too-rare scientists who feel a commitment to making his research and that of others palatable--more than palatable, good reading--to a broad readership. In this book he returns to the themes of his earlier books, Bumblebee Economics and The Hot-Blooded Insects, updating the field and providing a broad overview of insect-temperature relationships. With an abundance of attractive sketches and with frequent comparisons of insect mechanisms to those of vertebrates and to human machines, he convinces the reader that these seemingly esoteric matters are exciting and what everyone should be talking about.
A fascinating blend of first-rate natural history, insect physiology, and evolutionary biology, all wrapped up in lively prose.
The Thermal Warriors can be commended at three levels. First, it is the definitive account of the remarkable array of thermoregulatory adaptations that have helped the insects achieve dominance on the land. Second, it is exceptionally well written. Third, Heinrich is not an armchair naturalist but the real thing: a leading field and laboratory biologist who speaks on his subject with refreshing and resonant authority.
Insects devote much of their time to staying at the right temperature. This book explains how, where, and why they do it. An overview of insect thermoregulation is vividly illustrated with a mosaic of fascinating examples [and] the author's own drawings of insects doing relevant things...This attractive book will be enjoyed and appreciated by every entomologist both amateur and professional...[It] will open its topic to a much wider audience, enticing readers with its lively and productive blend of physiology and ecology, and will do much to encourage the integrated study of insect biology. Every school and university library should have it, and at this affordable price most entomologists will want to own a copy.
Some grasshoppers pant. Certain tiger beetles build turrets...All of these tactics are undertaken by insects to cope with their greatest challenge: climate. Heinrich is well versed in the fascinating complexities of thermoregulation, and he relays them as he explains how and when insects regulation body temperature through movement and adaptation to certain climate changes.
[This book is] nicely illustrated with drawings and photographs. Well written and very readable; highly recommended for anyone interested in natural history.
These excellent books [Gilbert Waldbauer's Insects through the Seasons and Bernd Heinrich's Thermal Warriors] are best read fully and carefully, and in the order just listed. Each summarizes a wealth of intriguing information about a group often and justifiably characterized as the most successful of living creatures. Waldbauer, in the more general of the two books, has hit on the clever scheme of following insect life through the changing demands of seasonal changes, thus giving structure to a wealth of information. Heinrich, by contrast, provides a dazzling account of a particular and little-known aspect of insect life--thermoregulation.
[Heinrich] presents a fascinating review of the strange world of insect thermoregulation...Gifted with the rare ability to communicate complex information in simple, clear language, he summarizes the main points covered in his larger, more technical work, The Hot-Blooded Insects, and includes recent developments on the subject. This book will appeal to both informed lay readers and scholars.
In a series of delightful chapters, [Heinrich] considers heat balance, the flight motor, warming-up by shivering and basking, cooling-off, conserving energy, and finally discusses why insects thermoregulate at all...These are fascinating stories. But Heinrich does not only deal with physiological adaptations and their ecological significance: he also focuses on principal mechanisms...It is often asked: what can physics contribute to biology? The Thermal Warriors provides an illustrative answer...[This] is an excellent book charmingly illustrated by the author's own sketches and written in a lucid and captivating fashion. It is distilled from the author's lifetime expertise and from his great 600-page reference work, The Hot-Blooded Insects. Set out in uncluttered style, it will be read with profit and enjoyment by a wide audience.
Another fine book by this author. Eminently readable account of the 'ingenious' thermoregulatory adaptations of insects. Remarkable range of examples provide detailed overview of adaptations of bees, moths, dragonflies, beetles, katydids. Fascinating accounts, e.g., the defense against giant hornets by Japanese honeybees which involves that balling of a mass of honeybees around an attacking hornet and the consequent increase of temperature in the center of the ball which kills the hornet.
A fascinating blend of physiology and evolutionary biology, [Thermal Warriors] will not only be a source of delight to entomologists but will undoubtedly intrigue everyone who is genuinely interested in natural history.
Heinrich calls his subjects 'thermal warriors.' In the hands of a scientist as knowledgeable and a writer as capable as [this one]...this metaphor offers tremendous insight into the nature of insects...[The] mechanisms that insects use to regulate temperature are beautifully illustrated with Heinrich's own pencil drawings...[This book is] full of weird facts and wonderful explanations.
"For insects...the struggle to keep body temperature within an acceptable range is constant," Heinrich writes, "and often it is a matter of life or death. Each insect is a 'thermal warrior' in a contest with its predators and competitors in the context of its physical environment." Heinrich tells of this struggle as it affects insects, from a glacier-dwelling midge to a variety of bees, ants, moths and termites. He writes with an unflagging sense of wonder at what insects can accomplish.
A few decades ago, no one studied thermoregulation by insects...Now, thanks in large part to Heinrich it is a subject with a vast bibliography and dozens of researchers. Thermal Warriors is aimed at a general audience--though one that is prepared to think. It is illustrated with pleasing pencil drawings and impressive color thermographs of insects at work. Hundreds of fascinating examples show insects coping with heat when foraging in hot springs, and with cold when living in glaciers...Thermal Warriors is about more than heat and insects; it is also an explanation of evolution at work.
[Heinrich's] book both provides excellent background reading for those interested in global warming, and an easily read account of one of the driving forces behind the highly evolved intricacies of insect behaviour...[I]ntegrated evolutionary ideas are notoriously difficult to explain clearly and a strength of this book is that Heinrich manages to make complex interactions seem obvious and simple...I recommend [this book]...to anyone...who wishes to gain a first insight into the integrated importance of physiology, anatomy and behaviour in the adaptation of insects to their environment.
A society largely illiterate in biology is prey to all sorts of myth-making and misrepresentation, and it doesn't help when books or television documentaries sensationalize the insects--our only rivals for preeminence on earth--as 'alien empires.' Contributing to these misconceptions is the tendency of biologists on the cutting edge of research to discuss their latest developments in their discipline only among themselves. It is cause for celebration, then, when a splendid scientist like Bernd Heinrich brings to the public an in-depth description of the astonishing discoveries recently made in one aspect of entomology. Dealing with complex material without condescending to his readers, he helps to make clear in The Thermal Warriors that insects are not aliens, but flesh-and-blood animals relevant to our own stay on this planet. Bravo, Bernd Heinrich!
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