For students of science who are interested in how parasitic organisms came to be, this 15th Monograph in Robert May’s “Population Biology Series”, originally published in 1980, is an interesting and informative must-have classic for students of parasitology.
* How Did Parasitic Organisms Evolve? *
Unless you are a parasitologist, you may not devote a great deal of time to thinking about the parasitic way of life. But it is an interesting evolutionary question. What combination of genetics and selective pressures have been in play that ultimately result in the evolution of an organism that is entirely dependent on a host for its own survival? How did these biological free-loaders evolve? Price’s ” Evolutionary Biology of Parasites” examines these questions in well-organized detail.
* What Exactly Is a Parasite? *
Experts even quibble about what constitutes a parasite, and there are many definitions. The introduction of the book is devoted to sorting out exactly what a parasite is and is not; and then moving on; focusing the reader on the main topic of the book, the evolutionary biology of the parasitic life style.
* Why a Book on Evolution of Parasites? *
When the book was written in the 1980’s, Price believed that biology had not given sufficient attention to the evolutionary pressures that have selected for parasitism, explaining that, “Ecology and evolutionary principles should address such spectacular speciation and provide the basis for an understanding of the mechanisms involved. I do not think that a coherent body of theory exists for the evolutionary biology of parasitic organisms.”
Since this observation, the ecology and evolution of parasites received additional attention from Price, his students and other scientists interested in the evolution of organisms that make a living through exploitation. This book, “Evolutionary Biology of Parasites”, is a classic that laid the groundwork for future research and increased understanding.
* About the Author, Peter W. Price *
Dr. Price is currently Regents’ Professor Emeritus in Department of Biological Sciences, at Northern Arizona University. He has authored numerous scientific articles and books, his most recent book being “Macroevolutionary Theory on Macroecological Patterns” published by Cambridge University Press.
* About the Book *
Title: “Evolutionary Biology of Parasites”
Author: Peter Price
Publisher & Year: Princeton University Press, 1980
List Price: $57.50
ISBN Paperback: 9 780691 082578
Verdict: A classic work essential for anyone with a serious interest in parasitology. The information is highly technical and thorough.