The average kilometer of tropical rainforest is teeming with life; it contains thousands of species of plants and animals. As The Ornaments of Life reveals, many of the most colorful and eye-catching rainforest inhabitants—toucans, monkeys, leaf-nosed bats, and hummingbirds to name a few—are an important component of the infrastructure that supports life in the forest. These fruit-and-nectar eating birds and mammals pollinate the flowers and disperse the seeds of hundreds of tropical plants, and unlike temperate communities, much of this greenery relies exclusively on animals for reproduction.
Synthesizing recent research by ecologists and evolutionary biologists, Theodore H. Fleming and W. John Kress demonstrate the tremendous functional and evolutionary importance of these tropical pollinators and frugivores. They shed light on how these mutually symbiotic relationships evolved and lay out the current conservation status of these essential species. In order to illustrate the striking beauty of these “ornaments” of the rainforest, the authors have included a series of breathtaking color plates and full-color graphs and diagrams.