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Between the Rocks and the Stars
Narratives in Natural History

Author(s): Stephen Daubert

These stories take readers where they cannot go, be it out into space, back in time, deep under the ocean, down to the microscopic level, and up to the scale of geologic plate tectonics.

Squid turn themselves inside-out when disturbed by predators hunting through the darkness with sonar. Beneficial microbes spend their summer living in flower nectar, being transferred between blooms by the bees; then they spend their winter living within those bees.

Between the Rocks and the Stars follows the relationships that shape the natural world. The book presents twenty-four vignettes from the wild, each of which describes the natural advantage of a particular organism. These true-to-life accounts are then posed in particular circumstances that illustrate the principles—commensalism, speciation—that shape the niches those organisms occupy. Some stories cover topics in geology and cosmology, describing the physical context through which the living world progresses across the eons.

Underlying themes in the book include the network of connections that link all these organisms together and the adaptations they make to the physical world in order to secure a home for themselves.

Biography of Author(s)

Stephen Daubert is a retired career scientist in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California–Davis. He has published two books of stories from natural history with Vanderbilt University Press: Threads from the Web of Life and The Shark and the Jellyfish, currently available in one deluxe paperback.


  • "[The book] reads beautifully and achieves an almost dream-like quality as [Daubert] guides the reader through geological time and vertigo-producing changes in scale and perspective."
    Douglas Kilpatrick Abbot, associate professor of biological sciences, Vanderbilt University