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Bernd Heinrich’s widely praised Bumblebee Economics set a high standard for scientifically accurate yet gracefully articulate writing about nature’s ingenious patterns, specifically thermoregulation. Hot-Blooded Insects takes a giant step forward by presenting an overview of what is now known about thermoregulation in all of the major insect groups, offering new insights on physiology, ecology, and evolution.
The book is richly illustrated by the author’s exquisite sketches. By describing the environmental opportunities and challenges faced by moths and butterflies, grasshoppers and locusts, dungball rollers and other beetles, a wide range of bees, and other insects, Heinrich explains their dazzling variety of physiological and behavioral adaptations to what, for them, is a world of violent extremes of temperature. These mechanisms are apparent only through precise observations, but the small body size of insects poses large technical difficulties in whole-animal experiments, engendering controversy about the reliability of the data thus derived. Emphasizing an experimental approach, Heinrich pinpoints where he believes studies have gone astray, describing in detail both groundbreaking experiments and those which leave a reasonable doubt about the mechanism being interpreted. He reviews relevant work on the major taxa to show the underlying patterns that draw diversity together, opines on current controversies, and identifies questions that call for further study.
Physiologists, ecologists, entomologists, and zoologists—in fact, all biologists—will be stimulated and challenged to further research by this masterly synthesis of a new field; it will also appeal to informed readers interested in general science.