There are many good books available about ecology but only few which specialise in the tropics.
This book focuses on the ecology of the tropics and it is a remarkable achievement. Illustrated with many
graphics and pictures and written in a very easy to read language it is very interesting and
it was really hard to stop reading in it - not something you can say of most scientific books.
The book covers all the important topics in tropical ecology incl. nutrient cycles, the reason
for the biodiversity in the tropics, trophic dynamics, carbon cycles and much more. The main
focus is on rain forests but other ecosystems like savannas are also covered.
The author knows the Neotropics best and so many examples and stories from the book are from the
Neotropics but other areas like Africa and south-east Asia are also covered.
The author explains everything from an evolutionary point of view which is crucial for understading
how biodiversity developed and how ecosystems work in the tropics. Without a solid grasp of evolution,
it would be impossible to understand tropical ecology.
I also loved the chapters on conservation. It think the author paints a very realistic picture. Neither a "Don't worry,
everything will be fine" nor a "It is too late, the tropics are doomed" attitude. In the end it is encouraging
for the reader to travel to the tropics and to get active for their conservation.
A note about potential readers: The book is targeted mostly at college students but I think everyone
with an interested in the tropics (e.g. bird watchers, conservationists, travellers, government employees, etc)
can and should read this book.
I think anyone who can read English can read and unterstand this book.
There is hardly anything to criticise. Typos are very few for such a large book.
I would have liked to read a bit more about the importance of top predators like Jaguars, Pumas, Anacondas
and Harpy Eagles (in the Neotropics) or Leopards and African Crowned Eagles (African tropics) for biodiversity
but the topics is covered and there is still a lot to learn about those species and their effects on
biodiversity. This is just a very minor point and the author cannot cover ever potential topic in detail - unless
he writes a book with 20.000 pages. For readers with a detailed interested in the importance of
large predators I recommend Trophic Cascades: Predators, Prey, and the Changing Dynamics of Nature
andThe Wolf's Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades, and Biodiversity
Of course, one book cannot cover everything and I also recommend the following books about tropical ecology
and conservation: Tropical Rain Forest Ecology, Diversity, and Conservation
and Tropical Rain Forests: An Ecological and Biogeographical Comparison
For more information about conservation in general, I recommend: Essentials of Conservation Biology, Fifth Edition
For the challenges in protecting predators, particularly cats (most cat species occur in the tropics), read: The Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids (Oxford Biology)
Also of interested is the authors other book: The Balance of Nature: Ecology's Enduring Myth
And last, this upcoming book about Neotropical raptors will also be of importance: Neotropical Birds of Prey: Biology and Ecology of a Forest Raptor Community (Published in Association With the Peregrine Fund)
To sum up, this book is a must read for anyone interested in the ecology, evolution and conservation of the tropics.
I hope the publisher makes a Spanish translation available for the many Spanish speaking people in the Neotropics.