Under auspices of an EU project (Coordination Action for Research on Life in Extreme Environments, or CAREX), scientists worked together in 20082010 to develop a plan for international collaborative research into life in extreme environments (LEXEN). They created a strategy for study in four areas: responses and adaptation to change, processes and interactions, polar environments, and life and habitability. One outcome is this book of 15 chapters.
From deep ocean trenches and the geographical poles to outer space, organisms can be found living in remarkably extreme conditions. This book provides a captivating account of these systems and their extraordinary inhabitants, 'extremophiles'. A diverse, multidisciplinary group of experts discuss responses and adaptations to change; biodiversity, bioenergetic processes, and biotic and abiotic interactions; polar environments; and life and habitability, including searching for biosignatures in the extraterrestrial environment. The editors emphasize that understanding these systems is important for increasing our knowledge and utilizing their potential, but this remains an understudied area. Given the threat to these environments and their biota caused by climate change and human impact, this timely book also addresses the urgency to document these systems. It will help graduate students and researchers in conservation, marine biology, evolutionary biology, environmental change and astrobiology better understand how life exists in these environments and their susceptibility or resilience to change.