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Biodiversity is as close as your breakfast table. Your cereal and coffee are the products of at least a dozen species of plants and animals. And believe it or not, you are related to your morning mealall life on earth is descended from a common ancestor, giving new meaning to the old saying "You are what you eat." Making clear why the future of biodiversity matters,Fragile Webwhich takes its name from the delicate mechanism that holds all life togetherunites a team of international experts to explore the wonder of the natural world. Drawing on the very latest research, the 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. Crucially, it 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 facing biodiversity could fundamentally change the lives of future generations. Fully illustrated with color photographs, diagrams, and maps, and edited by celebrated ecologist Jonathan Silvertown, this book is a timely snapshot of the state of life on Earth. 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. The year 2010 has been declared by the United Nations the International Year of Biodiversity, andThe Fragile Webwill be an essential guidebook for our time.