Submitted to: Quarterly Review of Biology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/15/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: This book consists of 10 chapters addressing aspects of chemical communication ranging from the roles of chemical signals in communication and evolution of eusociality, to strategies for identification and synthesis of pheromones. However, the work is too limited and cursory to provide meaningful insight into most of the topics. Most chapters are poorly written. Nonsense sentences, redundancy, extensive use of jargon, and errors or omissions in the references cited make the reading tedious. More importantly, key biological concepts are incorrectly or incompletely defined. As a result, the limited space is used inefficiently and little useful information is conveyed. Efforts to emphasize the applied value of this line of research were disappointing and limited to testimonials with no reasonable explanation of how the information could be used. Only three chapters are reasonably well written. P. Usha Rani provides an interesting listing of the sensillae of insects, with emphasis on the Hemiptera, but supporting examples sometimes stray from the line of discussion. A. K. Raina provides the most useful chapter of the book, summarizing his notable findings regarding the intrinsic control of pheromone production and release. Nevertheless, his conclusions regarding the influence of host plants on pheromone release and calling behavior appear inconsistent with field observations of these same species, and likely represent laboratory artifacts. The chapter by R. Gadagkar provides an incomplete discussion of the role of chemical communication in the evolution of social insects. Though interesting, it does not blend well with the other topics. In general, the book offers a superficial and unbalanced treatment of an important topic.