Evolution on Planet Earth

Impact of the Physical Environment

Edited by

  • Lynn Rothschild, NASA, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA
  • Adrian Lister, University College, London, UK

Driving evolution forward, the Earth's physical environment has challenged the very survival of organisms and ecosystems throughout the ages. With a fresh new perspective, Evolution on Planet Earth shows how these physical realities and hurdles shaped the primary phases of life on the planet. The book's thorough coverage also includes chapters on more proximate factors and paleoenvironmental events that influenced the diversity of life. A team of notable ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and paleontologists join forces to describe drifting continents, extinction events, and climate change -- important topics that continue to shape Earth's inhabitants to this very day. In a world where global change has become an international issue, this book provides a several billion-year evolutionary perspective on what the environment and environmental change means to life.
View full description


Faculty, advanced undergradutates, graduate students, and researchers in all branches of biology, evolution, earth sciences, astrobiology, and cosmology.


Book information

  • Published: June 2003
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-598655-7


"An excellent text for introductory courses in biology, geology, and evolution." - SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST (May 2006) "The entries are well-written attempts at opening a broad range of material to an interested audience...Highly recommended for libraries with science programs wanting to demonstrate true interdisciplinary work." -E-STREAMS (March 2004) "...recommended for libraries supporting undergraduate programs in biology, but it may be of broader interest since the abiotic subjects covered are often studied in chemistry and geology." -CHOICE (March 2004)

Table of Contents

The Physical Setting for Early LifeAn Evolutionary Perspective of Nitrogen FixationThe Coupled Evolution of Life and Atmospheric OxygenChemistry of the Early OceansThe Role of Carbon Dioxide in Plant EvolutionSolar Energy and LifeCould Life Travel across Interplanetary Space?Genome Evolution and the Impact of the Physical EnvironmentThe Impact of Gravity on LifeGravity, the Atmosphere and the Evolution of Animal LocomotionEvolution and Low TemperaturesTemperature, Tectonics, and EvolutionThe Interplay of Physical and Biotic Factors in MacroevolutionThe Causes of Phanerozoic ExtinctionsDrifting Continents and Life on EarthLand-Sea Relations and Speciation in the Marine and Terrestrial RealmsTectonics, Climatic Change, and the Evolution of Mammalian EcosystemsIce Ages, Species Distributions, and EvolutionEnvironmental Variability and Its Impace on Adaptive Evolution, with Special Reference to Human OriginsThe Younger Dryas, Climatic Change, and the Beginnings of Agriculture The Physical Constraints on Extraterrestrial Life