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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

Whale Watching Impacts on Cetaceans by Sean Chamberlin

Two places exist where the public may most easily witness first hand a porpoise, whale or dolphin: 1) in an aquatic theme park; or 2) in the wild from a whale watching boat. Despite the obvious impacts of confinement (shorter life span, altered behavior) of cetaceans in aquatic theme parks, efforts to ban their display have just begun. In January 2003, Maui became the 17th city or county in the U.S. to ban the display of captive cetaceans. However, the popularity of these parks and their economic prosperity make them unlikely to disappear any time soon.

Similarly, social and political pressure has not been brought to bear on whale watching from ships and boats, a practice that increasingly poses short- and long-term risks to cetaceans. Whale watching is considered to be a valuable and economically productive human activity. As a result, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, the risks to cetaceans posed by whale watching are perceived as acceptable. However, when you consider that whale watching represents a $1 billion industry in more than 87 countries and territories across the globe, involving thousands of boats and millions of people (IFAW 2001), you may wonder about the balance of animal risks and human benefits.

Concerns about the impacts of boat-based whale watching in the 1980s and 1990s led to a number of legal restrictions and guidelines for boat operators. In general, boat operators must remain a certain distance from the animals and avoid crossing their path. Though ideal in theory, such practices are not always easy to maintain, as cetaceans often approach vessels out of curiosity. However, a number of concerns based on increasing vessel traffic and more comprehensive scientific studies now face the industry. Short-term effects on the behavior of a variety of cetaceans, including humpback whales, gray whales, dusky dolphins and Hector’s dolphins, have been observed, including avoidance, faster rates of travel, alteration of swimming behaviors, changes in breathing patterns, interruption of feeding and disruption of communication. Changes in vocalization patterns have been observed in association with vessel approaches for beluga whales, humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins (Trites and Bain 2000; Richter et al., 2003). In a study on killer whales in British Columbia and northwestern Washington State, measurements and modeling of underwater noise from whale watching boats reveal that multiple boats circling whales can generate sounds (145 to 169 dB re 1 μPa @ 1 m) that approach critical levels, i.e. those that can cause permanent hearing loss (Erbe 2002). Killer whales provide one of the best species for determining the effects of whale watching on cetacean behavior since every killer whale in the Pacific Northwest has been identified and catalogued and a long-term record of their behavior exists. Comparison of recordings made at three time intervals from relatively low whale watching traffic (1977-81) to high whale watching traffic (2001-03) reveals that killer whales increase the duration of their calls when vessel traffic reaches a certain threshold level (Foote et al., 2004). These results suggest that killer whales adjust their vocalizations to compensate for increases in anthropogenic noise.

While whale watching may under reasonable circumstances proceed without harm to the animals, the growing numbers of vessels and competition to provide the best experience have begun to create problems en masse that a few vessels alone could avoid. Furthermore, the perceived economic benefits—particularly to underdeveloped countries and peoples—may not bear fruit in the manner hoped for. Surveys of local resident in Kaikoura, New Zealand, where sperm whale watching operations commenced in 1988, and in Baja, California, where gray whale watching has become popular, reveal that the economic changes may benefit only a few and may lead to overcrowding, stresses on infrastructure and social disharmony. Thus, as a proposed economic development alternative for local communities and small countries, whale watching may bring unintended negative consequences as well.

In the interest of reducing potential harmful effects of whale watching, a number of shore-based whale watching enterprises have been launched. Hermanus, South Africa, boasts “the best shore-based whale watching” in the world. Some of the best views of humpback whales can be found at McGregor Point Lookout between Ma’alea and Lahaina on Maui. From Washington to California, just about any cliff is a great place to see migrating gray whales from December to April, but Point Vicente and turnouts on the Palos Verdes peninsula in southern California are especially favored for their view of these whales as they migrate along the inside of Catalina Island. Whale watching from airplanes has also been offered as a safe alternative to boat-based whale watching.

Our attention to intermittent point sources of intense sound, like air guns, sonar and ATOC transmitters, though well-intentioned, may divert attention from the more serious threat to cetacean populations posed by frequent sources of less intense, but numerous sounds at close range, i.e. whale watching vessels. As Whitehead et al, (2000) remind us, these activities “could pose a greater risk to most cetacean populations than the possibility that a small number of animals near a source might be injured.”