What We Are Reading Today: Physiological Ecology

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Updated 15 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Physiological Ecology

Authors: William H. Karasov and Carlos Martinez Del Rio

Unlocking the puzzle of how animals behave and how they interact with their environments is impossible without understanding the physiological processes that determine their use of food resources. but long overdue is a user-friendly introduction to the subject that systematically bridges the gap between physiology and ecology.

Ecologists—for whom such knowledge can help clarify the consequences of global climate change, the biodiversity crisis, and pollution—often find themselves wading through an unwieldy, technically top- heavy literature.

Here, William Karasov and Carlos martínez del rio present the first accessible and authoritative one-volume overview of the physiological and biochemical principles that shape how animals procure energy and nutrients and free themselves of toxins—and how this relates to broader ecological phenomena.

After introducing primary concepts, the authors review the chemical ecology of food, and then discuss how animals digest and process food. their broad view includes symbioses and extends even to ecosystem phenomena such as ecological stochiometry and toxicant biomagnification.


What We Are Reading Today: Ravenna; Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

Updated 29 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Ravenna; Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

At the end of the fourth century, as the power of Rome faded and Constantinople became the seat of empire, a new capital city was rising in the West. Here, in Ravenna on the coast of Italy, Arian Goths and Catholic Romans competed to produce an unrivaled concentration of buildings and astonishing mosaics. For three centuries, the city attracted scholars, lawyers, craftsmen, and religious luminaries, becoming a true cultural and political capital. Bringing this extraordinary history marvelously to life, Judith Herrin rewrites the history of East and West in the Mediterranean world before the rise of Islam and shows how, thanks to Byzantine influence, Ravenna played a crucial role in the development of medieval Christendom.

Drawing on deep, original research, Herrin tells the personal stories of Ravenna while setting them in a sweeping synthesis of Mediterranean and Christian history. She narrates the lives of the Empress Galla Placidia and the Gothic king Theoderic and describes the achievements of an amazing cosmographer and a doctor who revived Greek medical knowledge in Italy, demolishing the idea that the West just descended into the medieval “Dark Ages.”

Beautifully illustrated and drawing on the latest archaeological findings, this monumental book provides a bold new interpretation of Ravenna’s lasting influence on the culture of Europe and the West.