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Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America
Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata 0684187108 9780684187105 SmithsonianIt invites an appreciation of biology as few other books do and does so with extraordinary grace and humor
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Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America by Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata

SmithsonianIt invites an appreciation of biology as few other books do and does so with extraordinary grace and humor.|Scientific AmericanIn 17 chapters, each a brief essay on tropical nature observed, these two young field biologists have made a model of contemporary natural history, cheerfully speculative, concerned as much with large pattern as with diversity, chemically informed, thoroughly ecological and Darwinian to the core.|E. O. WilsonTropical Natureis superior by virtue of its freshness and authority. It is an account of the extraordinary richness of the tropical forests by two gifted young biologists who have recently experienced it and are experts on their subject. They write with the crispness of journalists sending dispatches from the field.|NewsweekTropical Nature...seeks to provoke curiosity about the forests -- not just provide facts about them -- and succeeds splendidly....Tropical Natureevokes the magic and wonder of a world completely contained within itself.| Chapter 1 IN THE REALM OF THE TROPICS The tropics are not a plot of convenient forest in Costa Rica; they are an enormous realm of patchiness, and any theoretical thinking based on presumed general properties is bound to become an in-group exercise in short-lived futility.Paulo E. Vanzolini Tropical America encompasses a great diversity of habitats. In a single days drive in Ecuador it is possible to pass through Andean pramos (moors at a high elevation), cloud forests, lowland rain forests, marshes, mangrove swamps, and even desert beaches. These habitats are all tropical, yet they have little in common except geographic proximity. It would be difficult to describe them all in a single short book.The lowland forest -- the jungle of common parlance -- is the subject of our discussion. But there are many kinds of forest in the tropical lowlands of South and Central America. We will focus in particular on the lowland rain forest.The greatest expanse of this forest is in the Amazon basin. The Amazon forest is one of the wonders of our planet, and this vast expanse is the largest tract of rain forest in the world. But not all rain forests in tropical America are Amazonian, and although they may look insignificant on the map, the total area of these other rain forests is substantial. The most important of these non-Amazonian rain forests are those along the Caribbean coast of Central America, the northwest coast of South America, and southeastern Brazil.Tropical rain forests are not accidents of nature, randomly placed on the earths surface. There is an order to their distribution, and to understand this order we must consider how our planet hurtles through the universe.The earth rotates about its axis once each day and travels around the sun once each year. This means that every point on the earths surface receives the same amount of daylight each year, a total of 4,380 hours (give or take a few minutes, which we make up every so often in leap years). Our long summer days are precisely as long as our long winter nights and we finish the year in balance. This is true even in the polar regions, which have constant daylight during the summer and constant darkness during the winter. But the axis of the earths daily rotation is not perpendicular to its orbit, and this inclination has several implications. It explains the familiar seasons of the temperate zones -- during the winter we are tilted away from the sun and during the summer we are tilted toward the sun. It also explains why the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, because when the north is tilted toward the sun, the south is tilted away. What may be less obvious is that only part of the earths surface ever receives direct overhead sunlight: those places that lie between two lines of latitude, the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south. Within these borders, daylength remains more or less constant through the year. These are the tropics, or as Darwin was wont to call them, the intertropical regions.The tropics are characterized by climatic features that residents of the temperate zones find unusual. There is little seasonal change in temperature, the type of seasonality we are accustomed to. Days and nights are about the same length throughout the year. In the tropics you dont have to worry about sending your children off to school on dark winter mornings, but you miss out on lingering, lazy summer evenings.The intensity of tropical sunlight is difficult to describe, though the reason for its intensity is clear enough. It is related once again to the tilt of the earth. A beam of sunlight striking the earth in the temperate zones always strikes at an angle because the sun is never directly overhead. The radiant energy of this beam of sunlight is therefore spread out. In the tropics, the same beam of sunlight strikes the ea|Ernst MayrCombines excellent science, often based on original observations, with a warm sympathy for creatures big and small. A worthy successor to the writings of the great naturalists of the American tropics. I know of no better introduction to tropical biology.|Philadelphia Inquirer...one of the best natural-history books in recent years. Lyrical, richly detailed and delightful to read.

Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata

Language: English

Binding: Paperback

Pages: 248

Publisher: Charles Scribners Sons

Publication Date: 1987-01-29

Our Price: $3.89

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ISBN: 0684187108
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Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata  Paperback


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