The Tree of Life

Pablo Vargas, Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid, and Rafael Zardoya, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Madrid

Pablo Vargas, Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid, and Rafael Zardoya, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Madrid

The Tree of Life

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table of contents

Description

The past two decades have seen revolutionary progress in our ability to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and classify living things, thanks to improved methods of inference and a wealth of DNA sequencing research. The Tree of Life condenses this knowledge into 44 chapters of the ultimate phylogenetic tree, providing for the first time a comprehensive overview of evolutionary relationships for the main groups of living...

The past two decades have seen revolutionary progress in our ability to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and classify living things, thanks to improved methods of inference and a wealth of DNA sequencing research. The Tree of Life condenses this knowledge into 44 chapters of the ultimate phylogenetic tree, providing for the first time a comprehensive overview of evolutionary relationships for the main groups of living organisms. Each chapter is authored by experts, and appropriate chapters feature these elements:

  • Chapter-opening evolutionary tree for each group of organisms
  • Genome characteristics
  • Phylogenetic results contrasted with previous classifications
  • Evolution of characters
  • Evolutionary tendencies
  • Biogeography and biodiversity
  • Differentiation and speciation
  • Open questions
  • Basic bibliography
  • Basic terms

In addition, 11 more chapters on evolution-influencing factors (e.g., symbiosis, biogeography), systematics, and phylogenetic techniques are included. This indispensable book will serve college and graduate students, university teachers, life science researchers, and other professionals who require classification in an evolutionary framework through which their own comparative biological data can be interpreted.

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Pablo Vargas is Senior Scientist of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) at the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid. His educational background includes a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Botany at the Complutense University (Madrid). He also earned his Ph.D. at the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid and completed a four-year postdoctoral period in California (UC Berkeley), England (University of Reading), and Germany (University of Mainz). The postdoctoral period and current researcher position allowed specialization in plant phylogenetics. As a result, he has published over 200 scientific papers, including tree reconstructions of more than 20 angiosperm families in the last 15 years. In addition, four more books on public dissemination of plant sciences were also published in this period. Currently, he is involved with three main projects that address hypotheses on systematics of Mediterranean angiosperm families, phylogenomics of the olive tree and relatives, and ecological processes in plants and animals of the Galápagos and Canary Islands.

Rafael Zardoya is Research Professor of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid. His educational background includes a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Biotechnology from the University Autónoma of Madrid. He earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University Complutense of Madrid and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His current research interests include: the study of higher phylogenetic relationships of several metazoan phyla, with particular emphasis on molluscs and vertebrates; the genetic basis of speciation in marine snails and their phylogeography; the molecular evolution of complete animal mitochondrial genomes and nuclear gene families; and the performance and limitations of phylogenetic methods in a genomic context.

“I was impressed by this book when I first saw the edition in Spanish soon after publication in 2012. … The English edition is not just a translation, however, but revised and extended to include the most recent results and information on some ‘hyperdiverse’ groups not included in the original Spanish edition. This is, as far as I am aware, the most comprehensive account of the diversity of life on Earth (viruses excluded) as we know it in a single volume. … This book could almost be looked on as a ‘coffee-table’ work on the diversity of life, but it is actually something that should not only be a reference work on the shelves of biodiversity, conservation, and molecular scientists, molecular biologists, but a basic reference text for all students in the non-medical biological sciences. The modest price for such a substantial full-colour work should help this title get the wide circulation it merits.”
—David L. Hawksworth, Biodiversity and Conservation

“… one could scarcely wish for a more authoritative brief guide to the Earth's biota.”
—Kevin Padian, Reports of the National Center for Science Education

“The book emphatically holds its own against the strong competition, and it thus belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who pretends to an interest in the phylogenetic view of biodiversity.”
—David A. Morrison, Systematic Biology

The Tree of Life is a wonderful achievement. It is authoritative, and for this we are grateful to the authors. But it is also didactic and elegantly produced, and for this we thank the editors and the publishers.”
—Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine

“This exquisite summary of the phylogeny of major groups of life provides one of the most comprehensive and useful overviews of biodiversity available. Each chapter is written by a leading expert in the respective taxonomic group. This will be an important reference for anyone interested in life's diversity and evolutionary relationships.”
—David M. Hillis, University of Texas at Austin