Tropical trails and forest tales: Book review. Tropical Rainforests: Past, Present and Future

Tropical trails and forest tales: Book review. Tropical Rainforests: Past, Present and Future

Tropical Rainforests is a 28-chapter book that stems from a symposium held in April 1998 as a collaboration between the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Topical Rainforest Ecology and Management and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, with contributions updated in 2003. Three quarters of the chapters address landscape–regional-scale diversity patterns, and a third of these focus on the Australian wet tropics. The remaining chapters consider various ecological or conservation themes.
My favourite contribution is Colinvaux’s assessment of the Pleistocene refugia and ‘species-pump’ hypotheses for Amazonia; that is the proposition that isolated forest remnants remained during arid episodes, and that such divided populations encouraged speciation, increasing regional richness. Colinvaux demolishes these conjectures, presenting evidence that continuous forest cover has been maintained for at least 170 000 years. This is a moral tale: beautiful theories can lead us astray and erroneous interpretations have stemmed from expectations, poor tropical knowledge and from ignoring contrary accounts.

Authors: Sheil, D.

Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers

Publication Year: 2005

ISSN: 0169-5347

Source: Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20(6): 285-286

DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2005.04.017

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