Song of the Dodo by David Quammen
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Song of the Dodo
By David Quammen

The Song of the Dodo

Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions

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Format: Paperback

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Song of the Dodo by David Quammen

Book Awards

  • Winner of Conservation Book Prize 1996.

Book Description

Why have island ecosystems always suffered such high rates of extinction? In our age, with all the world's landscapes, from Tasmania to the Amazon to Yellowstone, now being carved into island-like fragments by human activity, the implications of this question are more urgent than ever. Over the past eight years, David Quammen has followed the threads of island biogeography on a globe-encircling journey of discovery.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712673334
ISBN-10: 0712673334
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 154mm x 46mm)
Pages: 704
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Jul-1997
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...

Books By Author David Quammen

Evolution: A Visual Record by David Quammen Evolution: A Visual Record, Hardback (October 2016)

Stunning images to reawaken us to the scientific process that drives the amazing diversity of life on earth

Yellowstone by David Quammen Yellowstone, Hardback (September 2016)

This monumental book is an incredible journey through Yellowstone, America's first national park.

Chimp and the River by David Quammen Chimp and the River, Paperback (May 2015)

Tells the story of AIDS - how it originated with a virus in a chimpanzee, jumped to one human and infected more than 60 million people. This book includes research reports that has revealed dark surprises and yielded a radically new scenario of how AIDS began and spread.

Ebola by David Quammen Ebola, Paperback (October 2014)

"A frightening and fascinating masterpiece of science reporting that reads like a detective story." -Walter Isaacson

» View all books by David Quammen


UK Kirkus Review » This one has a personal resonance and is my fantasy book, in fact. If I hadn't been a novelist I would have wanted to be a naturalist, an adventurer or a traveller. Quammen is all of these. His book is ostensibly a painstaking - almost 700 pages! - report on the distribution of animal and plant species on islands. This could have been a work of armchair scholarship but Quammen has the nature of a prowler and the eye of a novelist. We end up hunting dodos, marsupial tigers, dragons and a pestilential outbreak of snakes in Mauritius, Tasmania, Komodo and Guam, while Quammen reveals his Theory of Everything. I have never before been so completely captivated by a work of non-fiction. A masterpiece of natural history. Review by Jim Crace, whose books include 'Being Dead' (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Everything you might want to know about life and death on islands here, there, and everywhere on the globe can be found in Quammen's study of island biogeography. The National Magazine Award-winning science writer (Outside magazine; The Flight of the Iguana, 1988, etc.) asks, Why does island life differ radically from mainland life? The answer, not surprisingly, is evolution. There are unique evolutionary opportunities as well as pressures on islands. On oceanic islands, which arise from deep sea eruptions (such as the Galapagos Islands), there may be fewer varieties of species; the first arrivals often expand to fill all sorts of ecological niches in a process called adaptive radiation. So it was with the varied populations of finches that Charles Darwin observed in the Galapagos. Islands that sit on continental shelves near enough to mainlands to have been connected by land bridges at times of major glaciation may have animal species as varied as those on the mainland, but the species are likely to differ in their behavior or appearance from mainland relatives. Some reptiles isolated on islands grew large, like the Komodo dragon of Indonesia; some mammals shrank, like the pygmy elephants found in Sicily. Some birds became flightless, like the celebrated dodo native to Mauritius. Quammen provides abundant examples of the variables that can foster or doom populations, ranging from the sheer size of an island (big is better), to bouts of bad weather, to the introduction of farming and the animal camp followers of man: pigs, rats, and cats. The book's virtues include Quammen's vivid account of his treks to the world's wild places and interviews with the experts he finds there. The downside is too much of a muchness; Quammen's zeal to spill all his notes and a breezy style that grows wearying. Taken in small bites, however, there is much to glean here about the wonders, and also the fragility, of life on earth. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - David Quammen

David Quammen is a recipient of the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the author of five acclaimed natural history titles. His most recent book, The Song of the Dodo, won the BP Natural World Book Prize in 1996. He lives in Montana.

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