Birds show bewildering diversity in their life histories, mating systems and risk of extinction, and offer a unique opportunity for investigating many classic problems in natural and sexual selection because they are exceptionally well-studied in the wild. By employing phylogenetic comparative methods and a database of up to 3000 species, the authors identify the ecological and evolutionary basis of many of these intriguing questions. This is the most comprehensive reappraisal of avian diversity since David Lack's classic Ecological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds. It is also the most extensive application of modern comparative methods yet undertaken.
`This book contains a wealth of new analyses, points out intriguing unsolved questions, and for that reason is highly appropriate for a series aimed at senior graduate students and above....I believe this book may well act as a catalyst for an explosion of studies in the area of comparative evolutionary ecology.' Professor Tim Birkhead, University of Sheffield, England
'The authors have written a wonderfully stimulating book which, like Lack's original volume, is a landmark in bird biology and should be read by all ornithologists.' IBIS
1. COMPARATIVE METHODS; 2. DIVERSITY AMONG LIVING SPECIES; 3. Patterns of covariation between life history traits; 4. Ecological basis of life history and diversity; 5. Further problems; 6. VARIATION IN MATING SYSTEMS AND SEXUAL DIMORPHISM; 7. Ecological basis of mating system diversity; 8. Ecological basis of sexual dimorphism; 9. Further problems; 10. VARIATION IN EXTINCTION RISK AND SPECIES RICHNESS; 11. Explaining variation and extinction risk; 12. Explaining variation in species richness; 13. Further problems; 14. Conclusions
The tradition embodies by Lack is enhanced here by the insights that new approaches can generate. David Westneat in Trends in Ecology and Evolution I strongly recommend Evolutionary Ecology of Birds to anyone who is interested in a comparative approach to evolutionary ecology. This book, like Lack's, is an exemplar for how to systematically form and test hypotheses using comparative data. As happened after the publiscation of Lack's book, I anticipate a rash of studies that revisit or expand upon the authors' results. Tom Langen in Ecology (2002) I think that David Lack would applaud the contributions that Bennett & Owens have made... Stephen Pruett-Jones in Science The authors have written a wonderfully stimulating book which, like Lack's original, is a landmark in bird biology and should be read by all ornithologists. Tim Birkhead in IBIS I think this is a marvellous book - the most exciting I have read for a long time... A terrific text for both final year undergraduates and for graduate courses, as well as required reading for academics working in the field. Professor Nick Davies, University of Cambridge