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Coexistence: The Ecology and Evolution of Tropical Biodiversity

  • This is the only book on the market on the history of tropical ecology and evolution and on the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Can be used in tropical biology classes, ecology classes, evolutionary ecology and would also be useful in classes on the history of biology

By: Jan Sapp(Author)

275 pages, 27 b/w photos

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Dec 2016 | #230011 | ISBN-13: 9780190632441
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £32.99 $43/€36 approx

About this book

Coexistence: The Ecology and Evolution of Tropical Biodiversity is about tropical biology in action – how biologists grapple with the ecology and evolution of the great species diversity in tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Tropical rainforests are home to 50% of all the plant and animal species on earth, though they cover only about 2% of the planet. Coral reefs hold 25% of the world's marine diversity, though they represent only 0.1% of the world's surface. The increase in species richness from the poles to the tropics has remained enigmatic to naturalists for more than 200 years. How have so many species evolved in the tropics? How can so many species coexist there?

At a time when rainforests and coral reefs are shrinking, when the earth is facing what has been called the sixth mass extinction, understanding the evolutionary ecology of the tropics is everyone's business. Despite the fundamental importance of the tropics to all of life on earth, tropical biology has evolved relatively slowly and with difficulties – economic, political, and environmental. Coexistence: The Ecology and Evolution of Tropical Biodiversity is also about tropical science in context, situated in the complex socio-political history, and the rich rainforests and coral reefs of Panama. There are no other books on the history of tropical ecology and evolution or on the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Thus situated in historical context, Jan Sapp's aim is to understand how naturalists have studied and conceptualized the great biological diversity and entangled ecology of tropics. This book has potential to be used in tropical biology classes, ecology courses, evolutionary ecology and it could also be useful in classes on the history of biology.

"A jewel of a book: a wonderfully written, multi-faceted history of tropical biology as seen through the lens of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the major roles of its scholars in shaping understanding of the tropics – knowledge which is essential in grasping both the very wonder and the central role of the tropics in biology."
– Thomas E. Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University

"Coexistence is a comprehensive synthesis of the scientific developments over the last one hundred years that have contributed to advancing our knowledge of the evolution and ecology of tropical organisms. Jan Sapp masterfully weaves a narrative about scientific innovation with a history of events in Panama and Washington that enabled the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to emerge as a leading contributor to biodiversity research."
– Dr. Ira Rubinoff, Director Emeritus, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

"Coexistence brilliantly examines how prescient leaders build great institutions that provide the freedom and support to do great science. Sappa's story of the Smithsonian in Panama and the breakthroughs achieved there in basic understanding of the remarkable species diversity of tropical forests and coral reefs captures the essence of the excitement and conflict that make for great science."
– Jeremy Jackson, Professor Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography


1 The Other Word
2 Legends
3 Romancing the Rainforest
4 Regeneration
5 Is Evolution Different in the Tropics?
6 Niche Construction
7 Rhythms of the Forest
8 On the Waterfronts
9 The New Deal
10 Ecology in Disequilibrium
11 The Central Enigma
12 Liberated from fashionable science
13 Territories, Taxonomy and Time on the Reef
14 Nineteen eighty-nine
15 Biodiversity in Heat
16 A Continent in the Canopy
17 At the Roots of Diversity
18 The Other World Today

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Jan Sapp received his PhD in the history of science from the University of Montreal in 1984. He subsequently held an appointment at the University of Melbourne for 8 years, where he served as chair of the department of History and Philosophy of Science. He was visiting associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1990-1991) and then Andrew Mellon Fellow at the Rockefeller University, 1991-92. He subsequently accepted an appointment at York University in Toronto, and he was Professor and Chair in the Department of Science and Technology Studies before moving to the Biology Department in 1996. Professor Sapp held the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the History of the Biological Sciences at the University of Quebec at Montreal from 2001 to 2003 of which he remains an Associate; he returned to the Biology Department at York University. He is also a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.

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