sidebar sidebar
sidebar sidebar
sidebar sidebar
For Further Reading

Darwin, C. R. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory

Haldane, J. B. S. 1932. The Causes of Evolution. Longman: UK.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory


*Long, John A. 1995. The Rise of Fishes: 500 Million Years of Evolution. John Hopkins University Press: MD

This lavish overview of the evolution of fishes is not the most detailed but its illustrations and photographs give a rich sense of the evidence on which our understanding of fish evolution is based. It makes a highly readable reference for students and a terrific desk reference for instructors called upon to teach aspects of fish evolution.

Reference for: Chapter 12, Spotlight 12.1

*Raup, David. 1991. Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck? W.W. Norton: NY

This “little” book summarizes the evidence for five major extinctions in the geologic records and their causes. It’s a highly readable and engaging account that will quickly bring the reader up to date on this fascinating topic.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory


*Stott, Rebecca. 2003. Darwin and the Barnacle: The Story of One Tiny Creature and History’s Most Spectacular Scientific Breakthrough. Norton: NY

This book brings to the forefront Darwin’s painstaking and highly important work on barnacles. It might be argued that Darwin formulated his ideas about evolution and natural selection from studying barnacles. Although this is a “storybook”, in the sense that it weaves a narrative about Darwin’s barnacle work, it does illuminate this important and little known work in an engaging and instructive manner.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory

*Carroll, Sean B. 2006. The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution. W. W. Norton: NY

The evolutionary record is contained in the DNA of organisms. It is a history that we can finally begin to read.



*Coyne, Jerry A., and H. Allen Orr. 2004. Speciation. Sinauer Associates: MA.

Coyne and Orr have written a textbook covering all aspects of speciation, emphasizing modern research on this topic.


*Ellis, Richard. 2001. Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea. Viking Penguin Books: NY

Ellis is a masterful storyteller and illustrator. There are better books on this subject but if you like Ellis way of weaving facts, this book should please you.


*Fortey, Richard. 1997. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth. Vintage Books: NY

Fortey narrates the history of life on Earth, citing his own work and the research of other scientists to piece together the puzzles of how life evolved.


*Fortey, Richard. 2000. Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution. Alfred A. Knopf: NY

All you ever wanted to know about trilobites in an engaging, delightful prose.

*Gould, Stephen Jay. 1989. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. W. W. Norton: NY

Stephen Jay Gould delights some and irritates others but he always manages to inspire thoughtful reflection on a topic. In this book, he discusses in great detail the Burgess Shale and how it paints a picture of the “progression” of evolution unlike what is commonly perceived. Gould sees evolution not only as “survival of the fittest” but also as “survival of the lucky.”

*Gould, Stephen Jay. 2001. The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth. W.W. Norton: IA

*Gould, Stephen Jay. 2002. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: MA

This immense volume details Gould’s provocative and often controversial views on the evolution of life on Earth. To his credit, Gould is typically entertaining, and this book reads like a good novel. Unfortunately, you have to read a lot of it if you are generally unfamiliar with his ideas or the nuances of evolution. Nonetheless, it’s an essential reference for a biologist’s library.

*Hull, David L. 2001. Science and Selection: Essays on Biological Evolution and the Philosophy of Science. Cambridge University Press: UK

Hull’s essays educate and entertain and get the reader to thinking more deeply about science and its effects on humanity. His essays on evolution are a big help to those who need a refresher or those who require greater ammunition in the verbal wars with antievolutionists.

*Johnson, Kirk R., and Richard K. Stucky. 1995. Prehistoric Journey: A History of Life on Earth. Roberts Rinehart Publishers: CO.

Based on dioramas at the Denver Museum of Natural History, this delightfully illustrated book traces the history of life from microbes to mammals, with an emphasis on dinosaurs. Its brevity notwithstanding, this book does a great job of providing the fossil evidence on which the scientific interpretation of the history of life is based.

*Kirschner, Marc W. and John C. Gerhart. 2005. The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma. Yale University Press: CT

Kirscner and Gerhart tackle the origins of new species and evolutionary complexity.

*Knoll, Andrew. 2003. Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth. Princeton University Press: NJ

This is an outstanding book on the evolution of Earth and its biota. Knoll is one of the pioneers in the field of geobiology and his up-to-date scientific account of the field makes this an excellent reference and an entertaining read. Knoll exposes the controversies and examines the evidence that surrounding them. Most narratives don’t make good reference books but Knoll’s is an exception. If you are trying to choose between “histories of life on Earth”, pick this one.

*Larson, Edward J. 2004. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Modern Library: NY

This book sketches the development of evolutionary theory. It’s primarily written for general audiences and so loses some of the detail required for students and instructors.

*Margulis, Lynn, and Dorion Sagan. 1986. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. Simon and Schuster: NY.

A provocative hypothesis about the interdependency of higher organisms and bacteria.

*Margulis, Lynn. 1998. The Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution. Weidenfeld & Nicolson: UK

Margulis is not one to shy away from controversy. Her endosymbiotic hypothesis was met with great skepticism originally but is now widely accepted. In this book, she applies her principles of symbiosis to the full range of life and its communities, including Earth.

*Margulis, Lynn, and Michael F. Dolan. 2002. Early Life: Evolution of the PreCambrian Earth, 2nd Edition. Jones and Bartlett: MA

*Mayr, Ernst. 1982. The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: MA

Professor Sean thinks this is one of the most important books ever written. It defends the place of biology in science and retells the history of evolutionary thinking from pre- to neo-Darwinism. At more than 900 pages, it’s an intimidating volume, but Mayr’s prose and his way of explaining concepts makes this book a delight to read. You will only want to read several pages of it at a time as Mayr provokes deep reverie with every page. But you will have a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of evolution upon reading this book than is possible with just about any other book.

*Mayr, Ernst. 2001. What Evolution Is. Basic Books: NY

Any book by Ernst Mayr is worth reading, according to Professor Sean. This book provides a solid foundation for different aspects of evolution and evolutionary processes.

*Weiner, Jonathan. 1994. The Beak of the Finch. Vintage Books: NY

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book has become a textbook for learning about evolution.

*Zimmer, Carl. 1998. At the Water’s Edge: Fish With Fingers, Whales With Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea. Simon and Schuster: NY

An excellent narrative on macroevolution.

*Zimmer, Carl. 2001. Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea. HarperCollins: NY

This is the companion book to the Evolution video series by PBS.

*Moorehead, Alan. 1969. Darwin and the Beagle. Harper & Row: NY

This “old” book is notable for its abundant photos, illustrations and drawings, many of which are full page and stunning, and for its highly readable and intimate account of Charles Darwin’s voyage aboard HMS Beagle. It’s not as dense with information as other books on Darwin but it captures the spirit of his curiosity and scientific reasoning.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory

The Endless Voyage: Building Blocks, Water World and Survivors (written by W. S. Chamberlin) (Episodes 18, 19 and 21). 2002 (VHS and DVD). Intelecom.

Professor Sean appeared in several of the episodes of this series and helped develop learning activities to support it. While some episodes are better than others, The Endless Voyage provides one of the most complete and up-to-date series on oceanography available

: : Encyclopedia of the Sea : :
Chapter Two Image

Fishing Impacts on Cetaceans by Sean Chamberlin

In March 2004, a northern right whale became entangled in a discarded fishing net and valiant efforts were undertaken to free the animal (CBSNews.com 2004). Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful. Entanglement and death of cetaceans by loose fishing gear often makes headlines, particularly when northern right whales—whose population numbers a mere 300 individuals—are killed. It is difficult to ascertain the number of cetaceans, birds, turtles and other animals that die each year in ghost nets. For cetaceans, the numbers killed may be in the hundreds (Weisskopf 1988); for seabirds, in the tens to hundreds of thousands or more. These nets, accidentally lost or discarded at sea, float in the ocean perhaps for decades and entrap marine organisms. A study of an intentionally deployed “ghost net” revealed a sequence of captures whereby the first deaths attracted secondary scavenger species who then became entangled (Kaiser et al., 1996). The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that hundreds of miles of nets are lost each year in the North Pacific (Davis 1991). A number of measures are being taken to reduce the problem. The state of Washington has initiated a tell-free hot line for fishermen to report lost nets so that efforts can be made to retrieve them. The Japanese have introduced furnaces aboard their driftnet fleet to incinerate unusable drift nets rather than discard them in the sea which has often been the practice.

A more difficult problem lies with cetacean bycatch, the unintended catch of cetaceans during fishing operations. Despite enormous public outcries and the adoption of dolphin-free tuna (meaning dolphin deaths remain below a certain kill quota), the problem of bycatch has not disappeared. Quantification of cetacean bycatch remain difficult for a number of practical and political reasons, but scientists estimate that 307,753 + 98,303 cetaceans are killed annually as a result of gillnet, trawl and other fisheries operating globally (Read et al, 2003, IWC Report). This estimate is based on extrapolation of estimate made for the U.S. fishery where statistics are more reliable. In 1999, approximately 1791 cetaceans were killed as bycatch, 1051 from gill nets. Scientists note that reductions in cetacean bycatch by U.S. fisheries were apparent during the 1990s (from 5100 in 1990) and that some of this reduction could probably be attributed to conservation measures implemented to reduce bycatch. However, they caution that such measures do not exist in other parts of the world and, as a result, their estimates of global bycatch should be considered conservative. Effort to reduce bycatch in the U.S. and abroad should target the gill net fisheries as 98% of all bycatch is associated with this type of fishing.

The bycatch of bottlenose dolphins by the gillnet fisheries in the eastern United States exceeds the allowable limits under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act prompting efforts to modify fishing gear or techniques. One technique involves equipping nets with acoustic alarms or pingers—high frequency acoustic emitters—designed to warn or dissuade cetaceans from coming near the nets. Such devices have been successful in reducing the bycatch of small cetaceans, such as harbour porpoises and common dolphins but were shown to have mixed results for bottlenose dolphins. Though pingers resulted in strong diversions of harbor porpoises, they only slightly modified the swimming path of bottlenose dolphins, who swam around the devices but still managed to feed on fish trapped in the net or discarded from the ship. A possible limitation of pingers may be habituation of the animals, a reduction in behavioral response in the absence of reinforcement. In other words, the animals hear the pinger but do not experience negative consequences and ignore it after a while. The opposite effect, sensitization, associating a particular signal with a reward, may also accompany pingers. Dolphins have learned to associate certain sounds with the commencement of fishing operations (such as the start up of a winch) and have been observed rushing towards a fishing vessel when a net is being hauled in. In at least a few instances, dolphins have been observed begging fish from the vessel (Cox et al., 2003).

For the consumer who desires to make informed choices when purchasing fish products, the information and labeling can be confusing. Relaxation of the dolphin-safe criteria has led some organizations to propose a flipper-safe label to indicate that zero dolphins were killed in the catch of the fish. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program recommends that consumers avoid canned tuna—which may be caught with nets and longlines that produce bycatch—and support hook-and-line products, such as albacore, where bycatch is not a concern. However, consumers should ask their grocer or fish market how the fish were caught to be certain as even some albacore are caught using longlines.

Impacts related to fishing require a better understanding of the foraging behavior of cetaceans and possible acoustic signals that warn of danger. In addition to impairment to the recovery of dolphin populations, the costs to the fishery of dolphin bycatch are substantial. Thus, it seems in the best interests of both conservationists and fishermen to seek a scientific solution that prevents further impacts to dolphins and maintains the economic feasibility of this livelihood.