Quirks & Quarks

The Serengeti Rules

Sean Carroll's first visit to the Serengeti inspired him to explore the common ways in which biology regulates itself - from the inside of single cells to the largest ecosystems on Earth

A biologist ponders the way biology's rules apply to the very large and very small

Lions rest in a tree on the Serengeti plain (Prof. Chen Hualin, cc-by-sa-4.0)
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When Dr. Sean B. Carroll first visited the Serengeti and saw the spectacular animal diversity - wildebeest, lions, giraffes, buffalo and all the animals that make this enormously productive African landscape so amazing - he was struck by one thing. There was a logical connection between the way this African ecosystem operated, and the systems he studied in his lab, working on microbiology and genetics. There were parallels between the way that animal populations controlled and regulated each other, and the way that cells and enzymes were regulated at the smallest levels of biology.
This realization inspired his latest book, The Serengeti Rules - The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters. In it, he explores how scientists have studied and revealed how these systems work, and revealed some of the fundamental rules of life.

Dr. Carroll is Vice President for Science Education at the Howard Huges Medical Institute in Washington, DC, and Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Related Links

- The Serengeti Rules - publisher's page with excerpt
- Previous Quirks interview with Dr. Tony Sinclair - The Serengeti Story