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Darwinian Agriculture - How Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii Chapter 1 Repaying Darwin's Debt to Agriculture 1 Chapter 2 What Do We Need from Agriculture? 9 Chapter 3 Evolution 101 28 The Power of Natural Selection Chapter 4 Darwinian Agriculture's Three Core Principles 43 Chapter 5 What Won't Work 54 Tradeoff-blind Biotechnology Chapter 6 Selfish Genes, Sophisticated Plants, and Haphazard Ecosystems 76 Chapter 7 What Won't Work 95 Misguided Mimicry of Natural Ecosystems Chapter 8 What Has Worked 120 Improving Cooperation within Species Chapter 9 What Could Work Better 145 Cooperation between Two Species Chapter 10 Stop Evolution Now! 164 Chapter 11 Learning from Plants, Ants, and Ecosystems 177 Chapter 12 Diversity, Bet-hedging, and Selection among Ideas 190 Acknowledgments 217 Glossary 219 References 227 Index 249

About the Author

R. Ford Denison is adjunct professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior at the University of Minnesota and taught crop ecology at the University of California, Davis.


"Darwinian Agriculture offers an engaging and bold explanation of why agricultural research must take better advantage of insights from evolutionary biology."--Allison A. Snow, Science "Darwinian Agriculture shows just how much plant breeding and biotechnology can learn from evolutionary biology, and takes an honest look at agricultural techniques from genetic engineering to organic farming."--Biologist "Denison's book begins with a broadly accessible introduction to key concepts of evolution and sustainable agriculture, drawing the reader in with a blend of good storytelling, sound science, and fascinating examples of natural parallels to the agricultural system... Even readers who begin the book with little understanding of evolution can finish it with an appreciation of how current research applies evolutionary theory to advance agriculture."--Choice "This book is a rich source of information for evolutionary biologists, biotechnologists and agriculturalists. It illustrates important evolutionary principles in an accessible way, using the farm of brother Tom as a recurrent tangible example. Evolutionary concepts, such as kin selection and relatedness are explained clearly, and illustrated with many examples that can be used for teaching. I can recommend this book to all students of evolutionary biology and ecology who are not afraid of applications. In fact, I may want to recommend it even more strongly to all those researchers, institutes and companies whose research aim it is to face the challenge of a growing world population that needs to be fed on a planet on which the climate is rapidly changing. Denison's arguments are convincing and we as humans may be missing out on a bright future if we ignore this book."--Duur K. Aanen, Evolution "Darwinian Agriculture provides an interesting and passionate but rather personal perspective that certainly challenges us to think a lot harder about what eco-evolutionary principles might have to offer agriculture (and vice versa), and it will hopefully stimulate a lot more scientists to conduct research across the agroecological interface."--Peter H. Thrall, Evolutionary Applications "This is an extremely interesting and provocative book and written in a very engaging way... It is clear what Denison thinks about the topics he raises but he also brings in the opinion and experiments of others to provide breadth of examples and case studies. It is an ideal book for a graduate seminar or undergraduate capstone course... If you're only going to buy one hard cover book this year, this should be it. By the time you're finished, the page margins will be filled with annotations!"--Marshall D. Sundberg, Plant Science Bulletin

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