This study analyzes the ecological distributions of reptiles and amphibians in southern Tamaulipas of northeastern Mexico. Observations are confined to a small, though topographically complex, section of the Sierra Madre Oriental to enable a more careful definition of zonal distribution than would be possible had the same amount of fieldwork been expended in a larger geographical unit. Geology, climate, and vegetation are environmental features of primary concern to the animal ecologist, and this study discusses each of these in turn. Such information should clarify the environmental basis for certain distribution patterns both throughout eastern Mexico and, locally, in the Gomez Farias region. In addition it should be useful in comparing this with other peritropical areas.
As explorers and scientists have known for decades, the Neotropics harbor a fantastic array of our planet’s mammalian diversity, from capybaras and capuchins to maned wolves and mouse opossums to sloths and sakis. This biological bounty can be attributed partly to the striking diversity of Neotropical landscapes and climates and partly to a series of continental connections that permitted intermittent faunal exchanges with Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and North America. Thus, to comprehend the development of modern Neotropical mammal faunas requires not only mastery of the Neotropics’ substantial diversity, but also knowledge of mammalian lineages and landscapes dating back to the Mesozoic.
Bones, Clones, and Biomes offers just that—an exploration of the development and relationships of the modern mammal fauna through a series of studies that encompass the last 100 million years and both Central and South America. This work serves as a complement to more taxonomically driven works, providing for readers the long geologic and biogeographic contexts that undergird the abundance and diversity of Neotropical mammals. Rather than documenting diversity or distribution, this collection traverses the patterns that the distributions and relationships across mammal species convey, bringing together for the first time geology, paleobiology, systematics, mammalogy, and biogeography. Of critical importance is the book’s utility for current conservation and management programs, part of a rapidly rising conservation paleobiology initiative.
Much as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was a call to action against the pesticides that were devastating bird populations, Charles S. Elton's classic The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants sounded an early warning about an environmental catastrophe that has become all too familiar today—the invasion of nonnative species. From kudzu to zebra mussels to Asian long-horned beetles, nonnative species are colonizing new habitats around the world at an alarming rate thanks to accidental and intentional human intervention. One of the leading causes of extinctions of native animals and plants, invasive species also wreak severe economic havoc, causing $79 billion worth of damage in the United States alone.
Elton explains the devastating effects that invasive species can have on local ecosystems in clear, concise language and with numerous examples. The first book on invasion biology, and still the most cited, Elton's masterpiece provides an accessible, engaging introduction to one of the most important environmental crises of our time.
Charles S. Elton was one of the founders of ecology, who also established and led Oxford University's Bureau of Animal Population. His work has influenced generations of ecologists and zoologists, and his publications remain central to the literature in modern biology.
"History has caught up with Charles Elton's foresight, and The Ecology of Invasions can now be seen as one of the central scientific books of our century."—David Quammen, from the Foreword to Killer Algae: The True Tale of a Biological Invasion
Sprinkled across the tropical Pacific, the innumerable islands of Oceania are home to some of the most unique bird communities on the planet, and they sustain species found nowhere else on earth. Many of the birds that live in this region are endangered, however; many more have become extinct as a result of human activity, in both recent and prehistoric times.
Reconstructing the avian world in the same way archeologists re-create ancient human societies, David Steadman—a leading authority on tropical Pacific avian paleontology—has spent the past two decades in the field, digging through layers of soil in search of the bones that serve as clues to the ancient past of island bird communities. His years of indefatigable research and analysis are the foundation for Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds, a monumental study of the landbirds of tropical Pacific islands—especially those from Fiji eastward to Easter Island—and an intricate history of the patterns and processes of island biology over time.
Using information gleaned from prehistoric specimens, Steadman reconstructs the birdlife of tropical Pacific islands as it existed before the arrival of humans and in so doing corrects the assumption that small, remote islands were unable to support rich assemblages of plants and animals. Easter Island, for example, though devoid of wildlife today, was the world’s richest seabird habitat before Polynesians arrived more than a millennium ago. The forests of less isolated islands in the Pacific likewise teemed with megapodes, rails, pigeons, parrots, kingfishers, and songbirds at first human contact.
By synthesizing data from the distant past, Steadman hopes to inform present conservation programs. Grounded in geology, paleontology, and archeology, but biological at its core, Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds is an exceptional work of unparalleled scholarship that will stimulate creative discussions of terrestrial life on oceanic islands for years to come.
Foundations of Biogeography provides facsimile reprints of seventy-two works that have proven fundamental to the development of the field. From classics by Georges-Louis LeClerc Compte de Buffon, Alexander von Humboldt, and Charles Darwin to equally seminal contributions by Ernst Mayr, Robert MacArthur, and E. O. Wilson, these papers and book excerpts not only reveal biogeography's historical roots but also trace its theoretical and empirical development. Selected and introduced by leading biogeographers, the articles cover a wide variety of taxonomic groups, habitat types, and geographic regions. Foundations of Biogeography will be an ideal introduction to the field for beginning students and an essential reference for established scholars of biogeography, ecology, and evolution.
List of Contributors
John C. Briggs, James H. Brown, Vicki A. Funk, Paul S. Giller, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Lawrence R. Heaney, Robert Hengeveld, Christopher J. Humphries, Mark V. Lomolino, Alan A. Myers, Brett R. Riddle, Dov F. Sax, Geerat J. Vermeij, Robert J. Whittaker
In this poineering application of island biogeography theory, Harris presents an alternative to current practices of timber harvesting.
"Harris pulls together many threads of biological thinking about islands and their effect on plant and animal survival and evolution. He weaves these threads into a model for managing forest lands in a manner that might serve both our short-term economic and social needs as well as what some people feel is our ancient charge to be steward of all parts of creation."—American Forests
Winner of the 1986 Wildlife Society Publication Award
Towering over deserts, arid scrublands, and dry tropical forests, giant cacti grow throughout the Americas, from the United States to Argentina—often in rough terrain and on barren, parched soils, places inhospitable to people. But as David Yetman shows, many of these tall plants have contributed significantly to human survival.
Yetman has been fascinated by columnar cacti for most of his life and now brings years of study and reflection to a wide-ranging and handsomely illustrated book. Drawing on his close association with the Guarijíos, Mayos, and Seris of Mexico—peoples for whom such cacti have been indispensable to survival—he offers surprising evidence of the importance of these plants in human cultures. The Great Cacti reviews the more than one hundred species of columnar cacti, with detailed discussions of some 75 that have been the most beneficial to humans or are most spectacular. Focusing particularly on northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States, Yetman examines the role of each species in human society, describing how cacti have provided food, shelter, medicine, even religiously significant hallucinogens.
Taking readers to the exotic sites where these cacti are found—from sea-level deserts to frigid Andean heights—Yetman shows that the great cacti have facilitated the development of native culture in hostile environments, yielding their products with no tending necessary. Enhanced by over 300 superb color photos, The Great Cacti is both a personal and scientific overview of sahuesos, soberbios, and other towering flora that flourish where few other plants grow—and that foster human life in otherwise impossible places.
Though biogeography may be simply defined--the study of the geographic distributions of organisms--the subject itself is extraordinarily complex, involving a range of scientific disciplines and a bewildering diversity of approaches. For convenience, biogeographers have recognized two research traditions: ecological biogeography and historical biogeography.
This book makes sense of the profound revolution that historical biogeography has undergone in the last two decades, and of the resulting confusion over its foundations, basic concepts, methods, and relationships to other disciplines of comparative biology. Using case studies, the authors explain and illustrate the fundamentals and the most frequently used methods of this discipline. They show the reader how to tell when a historical biogeographic approach is called for, how to decide what kind of data to collect, how to choose the best method for the problem at hand, how to perform the necessary calculations, how to choose and apply a computer program, and how to interpret results.
Alfred Russel Wallace is best known as the codiscoverer, with Charles Darwin, of natural selection, but he was also history’s foremost tropical naturalist and the father of biogeography, the modern study of the geographical basis of biological diversity. Island Life has long been considered one of his most important works. In it he extends studies on the influence of the glacial epochs on organismal distribution patterns and the characteristics of island biogeography, a topic as vibrant and actively studied today as it was in 1880. The book includes history’s first theory of continental glaciation based on a combination of geographical and astronomical causes, a discussion of island classification, and a survey of worldwide island faunas and floras.
The year 2013 will mark the centennial of Wallace’s death and will see a host of symposia and reflections on Wallace’s contributions to evolution and natural history. This reissue of the first edition of Island Life, with a foreword by David Quammen and an extensive commentary by Lawrence R. Heaney, who has spent over three decades studying island biogeography in Southeast Asia, makes this essential and foundational reference available and accessible once again.
Land bridges are the causeways of biodiversity. When they form, organisms are introduced into a new patchwork of species and habitats, forever altering the ecosystems into which they flow; and when land bridges disappear or fracture, organisms are separated into reproductively isolated populations that can evolve independently. More than this, land bridges play a role in determining global climates through changes to moisture and heat transport and are also essential factors in the development of biogeographic patterns across geographically remote regions.
In this book, paleobotanist Alan Graham traces the formation and disruption of key New World land bridges and describes the biotic, climatic, and biogeographic ramifications of these land masses’ changing formations over time. Looking at five land bridges, he explores their present geographic setting and climate, modern vegetation, indigenous peoples (with special attention to their impact on past and present vegetation), and geologic history. From the great Panamanian isthmus to the boreal connections across the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans that allowed exchange of organisms between North America, Europe, and Asia, Graham’s sweeping, one-hundred-million-year history offers new insight into the forces that shaped the life and land of the New World.
Until recently community ecology—a science devoted to understanding the patterns and processes of species distribution and abundance—focused mainly on specific and often limited scales of a single community. Since the 1970s, for example, metapopulation dynamics—studies of interacting groups of populations connected through movement—concentrated on the processes of population turnover, extinction, and establishment of new populations.
Metacommunities takes the hallmarks of metapopulation theory to the next level by considering a group of communities, each of which may contain numerous populations, connected by species interactions within communities and the movement of individuals between communities. In examining communities open to dispersal, the book unites a broad range of ecological theories, presenting some of the first empirical investigations and revealing the value of the metacommunity approach.
The collection of empirical, theoretical, and synthetic chapters in Metacommunities seeks to understand how communities work in fragmented landscapes. Encouraging community ecologists to rethink some of the leading theories of population and community dynamics, Metacommunities urges ecologists to expand the spatiotemporal scales of their research.
What species occur where, and why, and why some places harbor more species than others are basic questions for ecologists. Some species simply live in different places: fish live underwater; birds do not. Adaptations follow: most fish have gills; birds have lungs. But as Patterns in Nature reveals, not all patterns are so trivial.
Travel from island to island and the species change. Travel along any gradient—up a mountain, from forest into desert, from low tide to high tide on a shoreline —and again the species change, sometimes abruptly. What explains the patterns of these distributions? Some patterns might be as random as a coin toss. But as with a coin toss, can ecologists differentiate associations caused by a multiplicity of complex, idiosyncratic factors from those structured by some unidentified but simple mechanisms? Can simple mechanisms that structure communities be inferred from observations of which species associations naturally occur? For decades, community ecologists have debated about whether the patterns are random or show the geographically pervasive effect of competition between species. Bringing this vigorous debate up to date, this book undertakes the identification and interpretation of nature’s large-scale patterns of species co-occurrence to offer insight into how nature truly works.
Patterns in Nature explains the computing and conceptual advances that allow us to explore these issues. It forces us to reexamine assumptions about species distribution patterns and will be of vital importance to ecologists and conservationists alike.
A pioneering work, Species Diversity in Ecological Communities looks at biodiversity in its broadest geographical and historical contexts. For many decades, ecologists have studied only small areas over short time spans in the belief that diversity is regulated by local ecological interactions. However, to understand fully how communities come to have the diversity they do, and to properly address urgent conservation problems, scientists must consider global patterns of species richness and the historical events that shape both regional and local communities.
The authors use new theoretical developments, analyses, and case studies to explore the large-scale mechanisms that generate and maintain diversity. Case studies of various regions and organisms consider how local and regional processes interact to determine patterns of species richness. The contributors emphasize the fact that ecological processes acting quickly on a local scale do not erase the effects of regional and historical events that occur more slowly and less frequently.
This book compels scientists to rethink the foundations of community ecology and sets the stage for further research using comparative, experimental, geographical, and historical data.
Wildlife Responses to Climate Change is the culmination of a three-year project to research and study the impacts of global climate change on ecosystems and individual wildlife species in North America. In 1997, the National Wildlife Federation provided fellowships to eight outstanding graduate students to conduct research on global climate change, and engaged leading climate change experts Stephen H. Schneider and Terry L. Root to advise and guide the project. This book presents the results, with chapters describing groundbreaking original research by some of the brightest young scientists in America. The book presents case studies that examine:
ways in which local and regional climate variables affect butterfly populations and habitat ranges
how variations in ocean temperatures have affected intertidal marine species
the potential effect of reduced snow cover on plants in the Rocky Mountains
the potential effects of climate change on the distribution of vegetation in the United States
how climate change may increase the susceptibility of ecosystems to invasions of non-native species
the potential for environmental change to alter interactions between a variety of organisms in whitebark pine communities of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Also included are two introductory chapters by Schneider and Root that discuss the rationale behind the project and offer an overview of climate change and its implications for wildlife.
Each of the eight case studies provides important information about how biotic systems respond to climatic variables, and how a changing climate may affect biotic systems in the future. They also acknowledge the inherent complexities of problems likely to arise from changes in climate, and demonstrate the types of scientific questions that need to be explored in order to improve our understanding of how climate change and other human disturbances affect wildlife and ecosystems.
Wildlife Responses to Climate Change is an important addition to the body of knowledge critical to scientists, resource managers, and policymakers in understanding and shaping solutions to problems caused by climate change. It provides a useful resource for students and scientists studying the effects of climate change on wildlife and will assist resource managers and other wildlife professionals to better understand factors affecting the species they are striving to conserve.