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Description - The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen

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 - The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen

Book Reviews - The Song of the Dodo 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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