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The New Neotropical Companion


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Table of Contents

Preface 9 Acknowledgments 11 How to Use This Book 12 1 Welcome to the Torrid Zone 15 2 Why It Is Hot, Humid, and Rainy in the Tropics 29 3 Rain Forest: The Realm of the Plants 39 4 Finding Animals in Rain Forest 58 5 Sun Plus Rain Equals Rain Forest 73 6 Essential Dirt: Soils and Cycling 81 7 If a Tree Falls ... Rain Forest Disturbance Dynamics 95 8 Evolutionary Cornucopia 113 9 Why Are There So Many Species? 134 10 Tropical Intimacy: Mutualism and Coevolution 155 11 Evolutionary Arms Races: More Coevolution, More Complexity 181 12 Cruising the Rivers to the Sea 205 13 Scaling the Andes 235 14 Don't Miss the Savannas and Dry Forests 250 15 Neotropical Birds: The Bustling Crowd 262 16 From Monkeys to Tarantulas: Endless Eccentricities 319 17 Human Ecology in the Tropics 365 18 The Future of the Neotropics 377 Appendix Words of Caution: Be Sure to Read This 389 Further Reading 392 Index 417

About the Author

John Kricher is professor of biology at Wheaton College. His many books include Tropical Ecology, The Balance of Nature: Ecology's Enduring Myth, and Galapagos: A Natural History (all Princeton).


"The New Neotropical Companion describes, explains, and provides insight into the unique ecosystems of the Neotropics... Written by an ornithologist who is also a birder and who embraces the world from an ecological viewpoint that sees birds as part of larger systems of evolution, succession, and mutualism, The New Neotropical Companion is the textbook-that-is-not-a-textbook you always wanted to read, though you may not know it yet... [The New Neotropical Companion] will prepare you to walk through the rainforest and observe Neotropical birds. You may even begin to feel a sense of belonging in this very different world."--10,000 Birds blog Praise for A Neotropical Companion: "John Kricher's Neotropical Companion is an incredible accretion of facts, figures and anecdotes. Kricher outlines the region's ecology, pharmacology, evolutionary theory, anthropology, climatology, ornithology and conservation, with lots of personal stories to bring it all to life."--Simon Garrett, Times Literary Supplement Praise for A Neotropical Companion: "The book is exactly what it says it is, a companion to take with you on your travels in the New World tropics."--Journal of Natural History Praise for A Neotropical Companion: "Well-illustrated and beautifully written... [A Neotropical Companion] contains a wealth of information, explanations and curious facts about the region's natural history, and is the kind of overview that Alfred Russel Wallace, Henry Bates and other early scientific explorers of Amazonia would have given fingers from their collecting hand to have possessed."--Adrian Barnett, New Scientist Praise for A Neotropical Companion: "Kricher has created a highly readable, comprehensive overview of Neotropical ecosystems, which can serve on many levels: as a traveler's companion, as an introductory text for students, or as recreational reading material for those interested in tropical ecosystems."--Choice

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