Fragile Web    

What next for nature?

Edited by Jonathan Silvertown

In Fragile Web a team of international experts explore the biodiversity of the natural world and examine what can be done to protect nature and why it matters.

978 0 565 09261 0
May 2010
253 x 192 mm
192 pp
Colour throughout
Natural History Museum


Drawing on the very latest research, this book explains what biodiversity is and explores its evolution, from 3.5 billion years ago to the present day. It discusses the importance of the world’s ecosystems and how directly or indirectly humans are responsible for the fate of nature. 

Every single day we come face-to-face with nature’s remarkable diversity, but often don’t even realize it. From the plant and animal products that make up our breakfast to the ecosystems that help to produce clean water, our very survival depends upon the variety of plant and animal life on our planet. 

Crucially, Fragile Web also examines what can be done to protect the natural world and why it matters. Although we cannot undo all that we have done, ignoring the current crisis for biodiversity could fundamentally change the lives of future generations. 

Fully illustrated with colour photographs, diagrams and maps, this book is a timely snapshot of the state of life on Earth.

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Look inside this book to get an idea of its content.

Pages from Fragile Web

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Find out what others think of this book.

"Nearly every book about wildlife concentrates on species…Fragile Web is different, examining life on Earth as a whole and asking the big questions: what is it? How did it arise? How does it fit together? And what are we doing to it. Because the answers are detailed and very full they can sometimes seem complicated and a little challenging…But it is well worth the effort, not least because the book includes the very latest is rendered a great deal more accessible by the wealth of illustrations, wildlife photographs, maps and diagrams, all of which are beautifully chosen."

Michael McCarthy - BBC Knowledge Magazine

"I’m not someone with a natural interest in science but have to say I absolutely loved this book…accessible and engaging…the photography is stunning…I’m sure it could help to provoke debates in science and geography classes."

The Teacher: magazine of the NUT

"This new book tackles the issue of biodiversity, examining threats and suggesting how human activities can foster rather than destroy our natural world."

English Garden


Editor and contributor Jonathan Silvertown is an ecologist in the Department of Life Sciences at the Open University, UK. He is internationally-known for his research on the evolution and ecology of plants, and has written numerous works on the subject.

Contributors from The Open University, UK include:

  • William Gosling
  • Tim Halliday
  • Donal O’Donnell
  • David Robinson
  • Phil Sarre
  • Peter Skelton

The other contributors are:

  • Joanna Freeland (Trent University, Ontario, Canada)
  • Callum Roberts (University of York, UK)

About IYB 2010

2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) by the United Nations. Fragile Web is published to tie-in with this global initiative, which aims to promote the understanding of, and celebrate, the diversity of life on Earth, while encouraging action to prevent its loss. 

For more information about IYB 2010, please visit:

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