For readers of An Immense World, this thrilling book unveils a new scientific technology that tracks animal movements from space and ‘could fundamentally reshape the way we understand the role of mobility on our changing planet’. –The New York Times
Animal senses are finely tuned to their environments. Rats are known to flee hours before an earthquake and birds to take flight before a tornado. Yet animal movements themselves are rarely glimpsed by humans, save for a flattened patch of grass here or a snapped twig there. What if we could track secret animal movements all over the world? What would they tell us about how our planet is changing? Would humans be more prepared for natural disasters and disease? Could we prevent further species loss and climate catastrophe?
These questions are closer to being answered than ever before. As part of a groundbreaking new project called ICARUS, scientists all over the world have begun equipping animals with tracking devices that weigh less than 5 grams and are solar-powered. The data they collect feeds up to satellites and back to computers on the ground, creating a living map of animal behaviour previously thought impossible to obtain. In this page-turning book, the founder of ICARUS, Martin Wikelski, shares this compelling story for the first time.
In witty, heartfelt prose, Wikelski reveals intimate and delightful insights into the behaviour of animals, from lone foxes in the Arctic to wild elephants in Thailand. He describes the exciting process of getting his project off the ground, from securing funding from NASA to tagging animals himself in remote corners of the world. Finally, he reveals what his research means for our future. ICARUS may usher in a new epoch more hopeful than the Anthropocene – an epoch that Wikelski calls the Interspecies, when humans finally listen to animals and respond to what they have to say about the health of our world.
‘Wildlife is in steep decline on every continent. New tools like the marvels described in this book will help, and so will a new consciousness those tools might create- the real sense of what an honour and privilege it is to share our planet with the wondrous rest of creation.’
-Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
‘An accessible, exciting story full of cutting-edge science brought to life through personal experience focusing on the author’s central question- how can we best understand and protect the network of life on this planet with all its diversity and complexity?’
-Klaus Hahlbrock, former vice president of the Max Planck Society, and author of Feeding the Planet- environmental protection through sustainable agriculture
‘Martin’s story has the immediacy of an engaging private conversation. Enriched with enchanting vignettes of animal behaviour, the book concludes with an optimistic, if idealistic, vision of our future. It is compelling, deeply thoughtful reading that leaves the reader with much to ponder. We strongly recommended the book to all those who seek a better world that respects and learns from nature.’
-Peter and Rosemary Grant, authors of 40 Years of Evolution- Darwin’s finches on Daphne Major island
Martin Wikelski is the director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and honorary professor of ornithology at the University of Konstanz. Previously, he was a research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, assistant professor at the University of Illinois and associate professor at Princeton.