An excellent sourcebook, December 3, 2004
This collection is a worthy companion to Chicago Univ. Press' earlier FOUNDATIONS OF ECOLOGY. Spanning the period (literally) of Linnaeus to MacArthur BIOGEOGRAPHY presents a wealth of key sources (many now hard to find)which, when coupled with the Commetaries can form the core of a solid course on Biogeography. While some folks may complain that the collection stops too soon (early 1970's) I think the editors have been wise to really restrict themsleves to classics with real staying power, rather than run the risk of being more "contemporary" by including things that may be little more than 9 days' wonders. I would STRONGLY reccomend this book for any grad student or professor interested in ecology, biogeography, or evolution. I doubt my copy will spend much time on the shelf!
A biogeographer's bible (but also good for the amateur naturalist), December 27, 2005
Biogeography is a vast subject and in the introduction of this mammoth volume of almost 1300 pages it is argued that it should be treated as a separate major discipline within the framework of life sciences. Foundations charts the history of biogeography from Linnaen roots in the 18th century to the mid 1980s by collecting together and reproducing in whole or in part classic papers, articles and book chapters that represent innovation, refinement and expansion in the horizons of this subject. The selection overall represents the corpus of material upon which modern biogeographic studies flourish. The burden of choice in the selections used has rested on the shoulders of the editors and a small army of recognisable experts individually appointed to take care of each of the seven parts of the work dealing with separate themes in a roughly chronological framework. Each part begins with an introductory section which relates the items selected to the theme under consideration - representing both a commentary and a corrective to the "historical" material to follow.
To a large extent biogeography is a linkage of evolutionary and speciation studies to Earth history and geography in the contexts like climates, barriers and habitats. From key innovators there is a roll call of some of the best known workers encompassing geology, zoology botany and palaeontology.
In 1858 the ornithologist P. L. Sclater defined the zoogeographic realms still largely accepted to this date. Darwin, Wallace and J. D. Hooker amongst a coterie of sadly lesser known botanists argued out and complimented each others ideas of evolution in relation to geography. The identification of the ice ages and subsequently plate tectonics via A. Wegener and the synthesis of resulting thought probably represents the historical highlight of Foundations. The role call continues with G. G. Simpson, W. Hennig, L. Croizat, E. Mayr, D. Lack, E. O. Wilson and J. M. Diamond representing just a selection of the authors signposting a radiation of ideas.
Foundations is very much a multidisciplinary spread and not just a historical progression. Important concepts are highlighted and explored within further themes such as Vicariance and Dispersal, Diversification, Islands, Assembly rules and Gradients asking why there are so many species in the tropics.
The work is no primer and would take quite a lot of study unless an eclectic approach is taken to start with. It contains some of the most important papers in the field ever written - eminently quotable and often inaccessible and complex mathematical theory in parts. There could be some argument about the selection and potential biases. Overall the format represents a highly collectible reference of scriptural proportions to naturalists and historians alike and the work will enhance future research. As broached in the introduction the format is repeatable making this an important edition of a larger historical enterprise.
Biogeography papers, July 27, 2005
This series of papers provides an in depth background to the field of Biogeography. Many of the papers reprinted here are difficult to obtain else where.
Excellent, like like the rest of the "Foundations of..." series.
Rating: not rated | Added on: 21 Dec 2007
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