Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology 6th Edition
Book PrefaceBotany: An Introduction to Plant Biology 6th Edition
The preparation of this Sixth Edition of Botany had two objectives: first, to emphasize the interactions between plants and other organisms, and second, to make plant biology more accessible and relevant to students and other readers.
The emphasis on plant interactions with the biosphere began several editions ago, as the reality of global climate change became clear. Previous editions explored the role of plants in the removal of greenhouse gases and also the loss of many forests by human activities. While thinking about the interrelationships of plants and people, I suspected that students would be interested in the ways in which plants interact with all other organisms. I believe it is more realistic and engaging to examine plant biology as one aspect of the set of all the interactions of organisms and Earth. To take a reductionist view of plant biology as just the anatomy, metabolism, and evolution of isolated plants is to miss out on many of the richest aspects of plant biology.
Consequently, in this Sixth Edition, a new Chapter 26: Community Ecology has been added to introduce students more fully to interactions between plants and their surroundings. Also, several existing chapters have had new material added to emphasize these interactions; for example, there is a new discussion about ways in which plants detect attacks by fungi in Chapter 14: Development and Morphogenesis.
Making plant biology more accessible to students and everyone else was the reason I originally began writing this book 30 years ago. It has also been a primary concern in every new edition. Some reviewers and professors have felt that previous editions of Botany were too difficult for their students, and, to address their concerns, I have added a new Chapter 2: Overview of Plant Life. This is structured to provide a broad introduction to topics such as plant structure, metabolism, genetics, diversity, evolution, and ecology. An entire chapter was dedicated to this so that fundamental principles could be presented with just enough depth and breadth that any student or reader would obtain enough of an overview to feel ready to tackle any other part of the text. Many students will already be so familiar with plants that certain portions of Overview will be unnecessary, but they might benefit from other parts. For some students, all of Overview may be a valuable aid. Either way, it is meant to welcome everyone into the world of plant biology. I want all people to feel included in this book; I do not want any part to be a barrier to anyone.
Several other elements make this Sixth Edition more accessible. First, a Pronunciation Guide has been added for those words that have made many of us feel uncertain: people will feel more comfortable with xylem, allele, or Rosaceae if they are confident they are pronouncing these words correctly. Also, every chapter now opens with two new elements, a list of Learning Objectives and a few Did You Know? facts. The first is designed to allow students to see the important topics immediately, the second is designed to attract their interest. All chapters now end with a new section entitled At the Next Level, which presents more advanced topics that some students might want to explore on their own.
A new Chapter 24: Ethnobotany: Plants and People has been added to both emphasize interactions between plants and other organisms (us humans) and to make the book more relevant to each reader’s life. Among the typical topics such as food and fibers, Box 24-3 Plants and People: Natural Drugs, Endangered Species, and Women’s Rights discusses modern ethnobotanical problems that result from our increasing knowledge of plants and the cures they may provide. This new chapter does not replace the numerous Plants and People boxes that have been developed in previous editions; those are all still present here.
One of the aims of this book is to encourage students to think about the intersection between the scientific world and themselves, including their religious beliefs. This has been an important part of Botany from the very first edition with the sections The Scientific Method and Areas Where the Scientific Method is Inappropriate. In this Sixth Edition, Box 2-4 Botany and Beyond: Noah’s Flood and Population Biology points out that studies of the Bible led directly to the establishment of two critically important scientific disciplines: population biology and demography. Box 17-1 Botany and Beyond: Species Are Populations, Not Types discusses how our modern concept of species has changed from our original concept that had been based on Genesis. The relationships between science and religion are touched on only occasionally, but I do not want students to think there is a complete gulf between their biology classes and their religious lives. Perhaps some instructors will use these sections of Botany to lecture more expansively on science and religion.
My ultimate goal is to teach about life in general. Every topic mentioned in this book should help the reader to more fully understand human biology, indeed to understand all of biology. No organism exists isolated from all others; instead we all share one biology that encompasses all organisms. We are all in this together.
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|Epub||August 29, 2018|
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