Bibliography of biology  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel


Short list


Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna's Canon

  • Ibn al-Nafis
  • Ibn al-Nafis, Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna's Canon, 1242.

Description: The Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna's Canon was the first publication to describe the pulmonary circulation and coronary circulation of the blood, which form the basis of the circulatory system. The book developed a new system of anatomy and physiology to replace the previous Avicennian and Galenic doctrines as advocated in The Canon of Medicine, while discrediting many of their erroneous theories on the four humours, pulsation,<ref>Fancy, p. 3 & 6</ref> bones, muscles, intestines, sensory organs, bilious canals, esophagus, stomach, and the anatomy of almost every other part of the human body.

Importance: Breakthrough, Influence, Topic creator

De humani corporis fabrica

Gray's Anatomy

Description: Henry Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, commonly known as Gray's Anatomy, is an anatomy textbook widely regarded as a classic work on human anatomy. The book was first published under the title Gray's Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical in Great Britain in 1858, and the following year in the United States. The book's British author died after the publication of the 1860 second edition, at the age of 34, but his much-praised book was continued by others and on November 24, 2004, the 39th British edition was released.

Importance: Influence, Introduction


  • Perutz, M. F, Electrostatic Effects in Proteins, Science 201 (1978), 1187-1191.

Medical Biophysics

Molecular Biophysics

Cell Biophysics

  • R Phillips, J Kondev and J Theriot (2008): Physical Biology of the Cell. Garland Science, Oxford. ISBN 0815341636

Plant Biophysics

Govindjee, Photosynthesis, Academic Press, 1982

Complex Systems Biophysics

Mathematical Biophysics

Nicolas Rashevsky, Mathematical biophysics. . Rev. ed., University of Chicago Press, 1948. 669 pp.

Rashevsky, N., Mathematical Biophysics : Physico- Mathematical Foundations of Biology - Vol.2, New York: Dover Publications, 1960. Third Revised Edition. 462 pages., ISBN 0486605744 / 0-486-60574-4


Kitab al-Jami fi al-Adwiya al-Mufrada

  • Ibn al-Baitar, 13th century
  • Kitab al-Jami fi al-Adwiya al-Mufrada

Description: The Kitab al-Jami fi al-Adwiya al-Mufrada is considered one of the greatest botanical compilations, and was a botanical authority for centuries. It contains details on at least 1,400 different plants, of which 200 of these plants were his own original discoveries. The Kitab al-Jami fi al-Adwiya al-Mufrada was also influential in Europe after it was translated into Latin in 1758.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence

Species Plantarum

Description: A two-volume work, going through many editions (ever expanding), listing all plants then known, made accessible by an ordering in (artificial) classes and orders, and giving every listed species a two-part name (Binomial nomenclature or Binary name). With this book anybody, by counting the male and female parts present in a flower, could get to a listing of the genera the plant in question belongs to. This is the prime starting point of botanical nomenclature. It was also the starting point of a great upsurge in the popularity of Science. Arguably the most important publication in systematic biology ever. Without Linnaeus there might have been no Darwin.

Importance: Breakthrough, Influence

Cell biology

Molecular Biology of the Cell

Description: A comprehensive introduction to cell and molecular biology, at both undergraduate and beginning graduate levels. There is a free Online version. Importance: This has long been the standard introduction to cell biology.

Developmental biology

The Regulatory Genome: Gene Regulatory Networks in Development and Evolution

  • E. H. Davidson
  • The Regulatory Genome: Gene Regulatory Networks in Development and Evolution (Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 2006).

Description An important work based on a lifetime of solid research in developmental biology. The book is unique because it attempts to give a semi formal theory of regulatory networks as the basis of developmental biology. Importance: Impact

Systems Developmental Biology

  • G. Forgacs and S. A. Newman

Biological Physics of the Developing Embryo (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2005).

Description The first book to present an account of the full scope of embryonic development of vertebrate and invertebrate organisms on the basis of modern condensed matter physics and dynamical systems theory. Includes a chapter on the evolution of developmental mechanisms.

Multicellular Systems Biology

  • E. Werner

In silico multicellular systems biology and minimal genomes, Drug Discovery Today. 2003 December 15;8(24):1121-7.

Description An alternative approach to dynamical systems theory. Describes a new paradigm for understanding genomes in the development of organisms.


Biotic community

  • Eugenius Warming
  • Eug Warming. Plantesamfund- Grundtræk af den økologiske Plantegeografi (in Danish). P.G. Philipsens Forlag, Copenhagen. 335 pp. English edition Oecology of Plants: An Introduction to the Study of Plant Communities (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1909).

Description: This book turned descriptive faunistic/floristic biogeography in a new discipline, ecology. Based on his botanical investigations from Tropics to tundra, Warmings aim was to explain how similar environmental challenges (drought, flooding, cold, salt, herbivory etc.) was solved by plants in similar ways everywhere in the World, despite the different decent of species on different continents.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough.

Competitive exclusion

Description: In this book Gause formulated his Competitive exclusion principle, through experiments involving Paramecium. The principle holds that no two species can co-exist for long if they have to compete for highly similar resources. This outcome has two preconditions: 1) panmixis of individuals of competing species, 2) the environment is homogeneous in time and space. These conditions may be met with by aquatic microorganisms grown under laboratory conditions. However, in most real-world biotic communities, both conditions are likely to be violated from moderately to strongly. Due to its simplicity and intuitiveness, Gause's Competitive exclusion principle has had a great impact on subsequent ecological thinking.

Importance: Topic creator.

Description: Hutchinson's 1959 paper went a long way to understanding community assembly in ecosystems, in addition to solving an apparent violation of competitive exclusion. His studies of Corixidae lead to the discovery of 1:1.3 Hutchinson ratio that is ubiquitous in all community systems involving the co-existence of two niche-similar predatorial species. The size ratio difference is what permits their co-existence despite the degree of niche-overlap, and formed the basis for the limiting similarity theory - one of the most important contributions to Community Ecology to date.

Importance: Topic creator.

Ecological niche

Description: This is the paper in which the concept of the Ecological niche was first developed. Although Joseph Grinnell viewed the species habitat as being analogous to its niche, which is not how niches are perceived today, it still represented a significant contribution as it got his contemporary Ecologists thinking in such a way that lay the foundations for modern day Ecology.

Importance: Topic creator, Impact.

  • G. Evelyn Hutchinson
  • Hutchinson, G. E. (1957). "Concluding remarks, Cold Spring Harbor Symposium." Quant. Biol, 22, 415-427.

Description: In Hutchinson's 1957 address, for the first time in ecology, a strongly quantitative method for understanding the relationship between a species, its ecosystem and the environment at large is developed. Even if today Hutchinson's niche concept (or even the relevance of niches to ecology in general) is disputed, he fundamentally changed the orientation of ecology away from a qualitative science towards a strongly quantitative one. Hutchinson is thus considered by many as the father of modern ecology.

Importance: Breakthrough.


  • John L. Harper
  • Harper, J.L. 1977. The Population Biology of Plants. Academic Press, London.

Description: Harper's monograph on the population biology of plants was groundbreaking in turning the focus of (plant) ecologists to empirically observable demographic processes with direct relevance to selection and Darwinian fitness, such as natality, mortality and reproductive value.

Ecological strategies

Description: This monograph was seminal in many ways, but it also contained the formulation of r/K selection theory, which posits that two contrasted directions in life-history selection will occur in crowded and un-crowded communities, respectively: K- or interaction selection in the former and r- or exploitation selection in the latter.

Importance: Topic creator.

  • J. Philip Grime
  • Grime, J.P. (1974) Vegetation classification by reference to strategies. Nature, 250, 26-31.

Grime, P. 1979. Plant Strategies and Vegetation Processes. Wiley and Sons, Chichester. (2nd edn 2001) Description: Grime added a third fundamental strategy to r and K strategies, namely selection for survival in stressful environments. Grime's CSR theory (for Competition, Stress, Ruderal) addresses life-history evolution and community assembly. It was presented in the context of plants, but has been widely accepted in animal ecology as well.

Importance: Topic creator, breakthrough.


History of Insects

Description: This book tries to cover the whole extent of the history of the insects in time and space. Importance: By a leader in the paleotology of insects.

Souvenirs entomologiques

Description: Fabre investigated insects, both at the anatomical level and the behavioral level.

Evolutionary biology

Histoire Naturelle

Description: Until the publication of this encyclopedia much of the scientific community thought that all animals were created together by God before about 6,000 years. Not only did this 44 volume encyclopedia contained all descriptive biological knowledge of its time, it offered a new theory. 100 years before Darwin, Buffon claimed that man and ape might have a common ancestor. His work also had significant impact on ecology.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Impact

On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection

Description: In September 1838 Charles Darwin conceived his theory of natural selection as the cause of evolution, then as well as developing his career as a naturalist worked privately on finding evidence and answering possible objections, circulating essays written in 1842 and 1844 to his friends. Wallace, who was corresponding with Darwin from Borneo, arrived independently at the same theory. He wrote his paper On The Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type in February 1858 and sent it to Darwin, who received it on 18 June 1858 and passed it to Lyell and Hooker. They arranged for a joint publication of Wallace's paper and an extract from Darwin's 1844 essay; this was read to the Linnean Society of London on 1 July 1858, and printed in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. Zoology 3: 46-50. It had little impact at the time, but spurred Darwin to write an "abstract" of the "big book" Natural Selection he was then working on; this condensed version was published in November 1859 as On the Origin of Species.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough

The Origin of Species

Description: The Origin of Species is one of the hallmark works of biology. In this shortened abstract of his intended "big book" on Natural Selection, Darwin details his theory that organisms gradually evolve through a process of natural selection, and this process leads to the formation of new species. It was first published on November 24, 1859 and the initial print run was oversubscribed by booksellers at Murray's Autumn sale the day before. Darwin presents a theory of natural selection that is in most aspects identical to the theories now accepted by scientists. He carefully argues out this theory by presenting accumulated scientific evidence from his voyage on the Beagle in the 1830s, and from his continuing studies up to the date of publication. His studies continued, with the book being revised accordingly, the most extensive revisions being to the 6th and final edition.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Impact

The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection

Description: This book discusses Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection

Importance: Impact—this has been the basis for population genetics.

Evolutionary developmental biology

The Evolution of Individuality

  • Leo W. Buss
  • 1987, The Evolution of Individuality, Princeton University Press.

Description: In his book that examines the cell lineage as a unit of selection, Leo Buss addresses the evolutionary conflict between the individuality of cells that make up a metazoan and the metazoan individual itself. In elaborating this idea he presents numerous hypotheses regarding the evolution of animal development and life cycles. He wraps it up by addressing hierarchical organization in biology. It is one of the first texts addressing the idea of the individual in biology, integrating multilevel selection theory (from the macroevolutionists and gene selectionists) with developmental and cell biology. Though heavy on the theory and rather light on the evidence, for anyone interested in evo-devo or macroevolution this should be an essential read.

Importance: Topic creator, influence

Ontogeny and Phylogeny

Description: Critically revisits Haeckel's idea that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." Gould presents heterochrony as a concept that allows us to describe the majority of developmental processes in evolution. This book played a significant role at the time by bringing the evolutionary biology community back to examine developmental biology, ignored for many years.

Importance: Influence


Experiments on Plant Hybridization

Description: Experiments on Plant Hybridization was the result after years spent studying genetic traits in pea plants. In his paper, Mendel compared seven discrete traits. Through experimentation, Mendel discovered that one inheritable trait would invariably be dominant to its recessive alternative. This model, later known as Mendelian inheritance or Mendelian genetics, provided an alternative to blending inheritance, which was the prevailing theory at the time.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Impact


The Microbial World

Field's Virology

Principles of Virology

Molecular biology

Molecular structure of Nucleic Acids

Description: Discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Impact

DNA Sequencing with Chain-Terminating Inhibitors

Description: The basis of the DNA sequencing technique. (Sanger won his second Nobel prize on the basis of this discovery) Importance: Breakthrough, Impact

Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual

Description: The manual (to which is often referred simply as the Maniatis) is universally recognized as the best manual for molecular biology techniques. The theory behind the techniques is also discussed in details. It is cited by thousands of publications.

Importance: Impact

RNA interference

Description: Mechanisms of RNA interference pathways have been characterized and explained in model organism Caenorhabditis elegans.
Importance: a new important tool in molecular biology; exploited in research of gene function; use in medicine (gene therapy) and biotechnologies

Origin of life

Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth

Description: A very readable yet complete introduction to the early evolution of life.

Importance: Introduction.

Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origins

Description: Life on Earth arose nearly 4 billion years ago, bursting forth from air, water, and rock. Though the process obeyed all the rules of chemistry and physics, the details of that original event pose as deep a mystery as any facing science. How did non-living chemicals become alive? While the question is deceivingly simple, the answers are unquestionably complex. Science inevitably plays a key role in any discussion of life's origins, dealing with where, when, and how life emerged on the blasted, barren face of the primitive Earth. Genesis tells the tale of transforming scientific advances in our quest for life s origins.

Importance: Overview.

The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology

Description: Examines the consecutive stages from prebiotic chemistry to synthetic biology, uniquely combining both approaches. This book presents a systematic course discussing the successive stages of self-organisation, emergence, self-replication, autopoiesis, synthetic compartments and construction of cellular models, in order to demonstrate the spontaneous increase in complexity from inanimate matter to the first cellular life forms.

Importance: Systematic overview.


Phylogenetic Systematics

Description: This book popularized the techniques of cladistics in the English-speaking world. It is based on work published in German starting 1950. Willi Hennig is considered the founder of cladistics, which he developed while working as an entomologist in East Germany.

Importance: The origin of the subject; lasting influence

Inferring Phylogenies

Description: An excellent technical manual to guide any biologist wishing to construct a phylogenetic hypothesis.

Importance: Possibly the most complete and authoritative work published on phylogenetics to date.


  • Charles Semple and Mike Steel
  • Oxford Lecture Series in Mathematics and Its Applications, 2003
  • ISBN 0198509421

Description: Introduction to the mathematical theory behind phylogenetic methods, both for biologists and for mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists—this is an emerging area of discrete mathematics.

Importance: A useful monograph on the mathematics of phylogenetic methods.


Sociobiology: The New Synthesis

Description: Wilson introduced the term sociobiology as an attempt to explain the evolutionary mechanics behind social behaviors such as altruism, aggression, and nurturance. Wilson's book sparked one of the great scientific controversies in biology of the 20th century.


How the Mind Works

Description: A synthesis of many of the ideas of Evolutionary Psychology. This field posits that there are insights into the way that the mind works if you view our cognitive capabilities as the adaptive result of evolution.

Importance: Synthesizes the work of many Evolutionry Psychologists and provides a comprehensive starting point for inquiries into (exactly as the title states) how the mind works.

Systems biology

Nu 10:37, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

The Meaning of Systems Biology

  • Marc W. Kirschner
  • Cell, Vol. 121, 503 – 504, May 20, 2005
  • Robert Rosen, Essays on Life Itself., 1999, 2004.

Description: The need for a systems biology approach lies in the complexity and high degree of cooperativity among the parts or components of any living organism. Complex systems biology is an emerging field in Integrative Biology that considers both the multiple interactions in an organism and the entire organism as a functioning, living entity. Its methodology and theoretical tools rely both on advanced mathematical physics fields such as non-equilibrium thermodynamics/statistical mechanics of open systems, and sophisticated mathematical concepts and theories such as dynamic network (variable) topology, categorical biodynamics, relational biology and algebraic topology of super-complex biosystems. The `organization' and global biodynamics of any living system can be adequately defined only in terms of the dynamic relations and cooperativity among its highly-complex, biomolecular components. Thus, the complex systems biology approach aims to `capture' or identify the most significant relations that define a living organism and Life Itself (Robert Rosen, 1999).

Importance: Raised the question of the essential relations and patterns that define the life process.


Systema Naturae

Description: The starting point of zoological nomenclature, and the binomen. Follows the similar starting point for plants in 1753.

Importance: Impact


History of Animals

Description: A work in which Aristotle describes the anatomy of organisms, with a particular emphasis on morphology. Consists of ten books of facts and descriptions. Many claim the book seems unscientific by today's standards.

Importance: Topic creator, Impact

Naturalis Historia

Description: Encyclopedia of nature. It included many areas that are not considered to be part of nature sciences today - from geography, botany, zoology to painting. The encyclopedia was also novel with respect to its structure. It was to first book to use references, table of contents and tables of animals characteristics.

Importance: Impact

The Natural History of Selborne

Description: In these letters, White published his observations on birds and many other aspects of the natural world that he observed near where he lived.

Importance: Impact

See also

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