1 Tahrcountry Musings: Book Recommendation - Seasons of Life by Russell Foster and Leon Kreitzman

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Recommendation - Seasons of Life by Russell Foster and Leon Kreitzman

Here is an excellent book on chronobiology, the biological rhythms that living things need to thrive and survive. Russell Foster and Leon Kreitzman weave a fascinating account of the intricacies of chronobiology

 The authors point out that just as all creatures have an internal, 24-hour clock, they also have an internal calendar governed by Earth’s 365-day rotation around the sun and it is much more complicated than circadian clock.

In this fascinating book, Russell G. Foster and Leon Kreitzman bank on recent scientific advances to explain how seasonal change affects organisms, and how plants and animals over countless generations have evolved sensitivities and adaptations to the seasons. The authors also point out the impact of seasonal change on human health and well-being.

Here are some surprising facts from the book

·         The timing of human birth has a small but significant effect on various later life attributes like susceptibility to many illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.
·         Plants have the ability to measure the length of a period of light, and they germinate, flower, and reproduce on the basis of this accrued information.
·         Birds migrate not in response to weather changes but by using an internal calendar.
·         Akin to 24-hour circadian, many animals have a circannual clock in their brains that predicts the seasons.

The authors lament that climate change is wreaking havoc with the Earth’s chronobiology. Here is a good example. The eggs of winter moths of Arnhem, Holland must hatch within a 25-day time to ensure sufficient edible oak foliage to ensure its survival. The great tit must time the hatching of its eggs to coincide with this burgeon of winter moth caterpillars. The oak buds now burst 10 days earlier than they did 20 years ago. Here the caterpillars have overcompensated, hatching 15 days earlier. But it is not sure whether the great tits would synchronize or not.

A great read for those interested in the intricacies of circannual clock.

Russell G. Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Leon Kreitzman is a science writer, broadcaster and a respected futurologist.

ISBN 1861979142

ISBN 13 9781861979148

June 2009

Price £20.00

Hardback, 320 pp.

No comments: