Tristram D Wyatt
Cambridge University Press
Revised and extended since the first edition, this splendid, comprehensive resource covers both classic ideas in the field of chemical communication as well as recent advances, such as the surprising discovery that the chemoreceptors of insects and vertebrates evolved independently.
The attractive cover, featuring a ring-tailed lemur, hints at some of the delights to be discovered inside, with the content aimed at the serious researcher, as well as those just wanting a good overview of the discipline. Despite being a serious text, it is very readable and bursting with examples, such as the gruesome phorid flies, which are attracted by ant pheromones and lay their eggs in the ants' heads (which then eventually fall off, giving phorid flies the name of 'ant decapitating flies').
A particular strength of this text is the author's aim to integrate examples from across the animal kingdom so, for example, it is possible to read about nematodes, moths, snakes and mice in the same paragraph. Advice on methodology is given, along with suggestions for further reading, both likely to be useful to anyone starting out in this field. Sufficient chemistry is helpfully explained in the appendix, so that those with less grounding in chemistry can follow the ideas. All in all, an outstanding textbook and a worthy winner of this year's Society of Biology Best Postgraduate Textbook Award.
The judging panel
Winner in the Postgraduate Textbook category of the Society of Biology Book Awards 2014