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Tropical Rain Forests: An Ecological and Biogeographical Comparison

By: Richard T Corlett (Author), Richard B Primack (Author)

326 pages, colour & b/w illustrations

John Wiley & Sons

Paperback | Jan 2011 | Edition: 2 | #187656 | ISBN-13: 9781444332551
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £47.50 $58/€53 approx
Hardback | Jan 2011 | Edition: 2 | #187657 | ISBN-13: 9781444332544
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £99.99 $122/€112 approx

About this book

The first edition of Tropical Rain Forests: An Ecological and Biogeographical Comparison: an Ecological and Biogeographical Comparison exploded the myth of 'the rain forest' as a single, uniform entity. In reality, the major tropical rain forest regions, in tropical America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Madagascar, and New Guinea, have as many differences as similarities, as a result of their isolation from each other during the evolution of their floras and faunas.

This new edition reinforces this message with new examples from recent and on-going research. After an introduction to the environments and geological histories of the major rain forest regions, subsequent chapters focus on plants, primates, carnivores and plant-eaters, birds, fruit bats and gliding animals, and insects, with an emphasis on the ecological and biogeographical differences between regions. This is followed by a new chapter on the unique tropical rain forests of oceanic islands.

The final chapter, which has been completely rewritten, deals with the impacts of people on tropical rain forests and discusses possible conservation strategies that take into account the differences highlighted in the previous chapters.

"This well-written, superbly illustrated, book should be compulsory reading for politicians and international bureaucrats, because, however good the ecological science conducted in rainforest, it will be a matter of preaching to the converted if it remains in scientific journals and does not reach the broader public."
- Austral Ecology, 11 July 2013

"Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through graduate student; general readers."
- Choice, 1 May 2012

"In summary: this is a fascinating book. I enjoyed it, I learned from it and I recommend it. It will be of value to academics, researchers and students, and, due to its accessible style and illustrations, it will appeal to many others too. Columbus would have found it helpful-but over half a millennium later so might many of us."
- Frontiers of Biogeography, 3 January 2011

"This is an excellent text with much to recommend it. The structure is clear and the key points are accessible even to the beginner. There are some great photographs with a large section of colour images showing something of the splendour of the forests. Perhaps its best attribute is the freshness it brings to the topic by virtue of the perspective it takes. There's so much written on rain forests that this novel approach is valuable. It should be seen as a key text for those teaching this area of ecology."
- British Ecological Society's Teaching Ecology Group

"Richard Primack and Richard Corlett make a convincing case that tropical rainforests in the five principal ecoregions have major differences that must be taken into account both for setting research priorities and for addressing local, regional, and national conservation objectives [...] This may become the most important book on tropical forests published in the first decade of the 21st century."
- BioScience, March 2006

"Overall this is one of the most readable and insightful books on rain forests that I've come across. It is understandable to an amateur natural historian and has enough meat to satisfy the most demanding student. Even if you have no academic interest in rain forests it is well worth reading"
- British Ecological Society Bulletin

"This fascinating book provides a fresh look at the ecology of our world's tropical forests. Most previous texts have taken either a generalized approach [...] ..Primack and Corlett's approach is different, since they adopt a comparative analysis of the ecology and biogeography across the world's rain forests. In so doing they highlight the substantial differences between each region, and will reveal to even the most experienced of ecologists just how helpful it can be to alter one's perspective. I strongly recommend this book both to anyone with a professional interest in the biology (or biological conservation) of tropical forests, and to new graduate-level students looking for an overview of rainforest community ecology. Overall, as a final bonus, the book is well written and always thought provoking."
- Journal of Biogeography 2006

"[Primack and Corlett] have put together a well written and informative text. It leaves no doubt that to understand the ecology and conservation of tropical rain forests, we must understand and appreciate their uniqueness. In sum, this book fills a unique and valuable niche in comparative studies of tropical rain forest ecology."
- Ecology

"This book is logically structured, and uses a comparative approach to address the ecological differences between tropical forests [...] Overall, this book makes a very useful contribution to the literature, and although it is primarily aimed at undergraduates and postgraduates, it will appeal to anyone with an interest in tropical rain forests."
- Geographical Journal

"Space and time barriers in the present day 'global village' have become shorter, and 'exotic' tropical rain forests appear very attractive for all educated people. We take it for granted that Primack and Corlett's book will serve as a very suitable guide for understanding this awesome biome. All chapters are adequately supported by tabkes and figures, the latter represented by drawings, diagrams and black-and-white photographs. In addition, the book contains 30 colour plates that emphasize the optical variety of the rain forest, a feature of great ecosystematic importance."
- Folia Geobotanica 42/1 2007


Preface to the first edition.

Preface to the second edition.


1 Many Tropical Rain Forests.

What are tropical rain forests?

Where are the tropical rain forests?

Rain forest environments.

Rain forest histories.

Origins of the similarities and differences among rain forests.

Many rain forests.


2 Plants: Building Blocks of the Rain Forest.

Plant distributions.

Rain forest structure.

How many plant species?

Widespread plant families.

Neotropical rain forests.

Asian rain forests.

Rain forests in New Guinea and Australia.

African rain forests.

Madagascan rain forests.

Conclusions and future research directions.

3 Primate Communities: A Key to Understanding Biogeography and Ecology.

What are primates?

Old World versus New World primates.

Primate diets.

Primate communities.

Primates as seed dispersal agents.

Conclusions and future research directions.

4 Carnivores and Plant-eaters.


Herbivores of the forest floor.

Conclusions and future research directions.

5 Birds: Linkages in the Rain Forest Community.


Little, brown, insect-eating birds.

Forest frugivores.

Fruit size and body size.

Flower visitors.



Birds of prey.


Night birds.


Comparison of bird communities across continents.

Conclusions and future research directions.

6 Fruit Bats and Gliding Animals in the Forest Canopy.

Fruit- and nectar-feeding bats.

Flying behavior.

Foraging behavior.

Bats as pollinators and seed dispersal agents.

Gliding vertebrates.

Conclusions and future research directions.

7 Insects: Diverse, Abundant, and Ecologically Important.





Conclusions and future research directions.

8 Island Rain Forests.

Pacific islands.

Evolution on islands.

Indian Ocean islands.

Atlantic islands.

Caribbean islands.

Natural disasters.

Human impacts.

Conclusions and future research directions.

9 The Future of Tropical Rain Forests.

Different forests, different threats.

The major threats.

The forces behind the threats.

Global climate change.

Saving the many rain forests.

Conclusions and future research directions.



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Richard Corlett, a Professor at the National University of Singapore, has studied tropical rain forests in New Guinea, Southeast Asia, and southern China. His major current research interest is in how rain forest plants and animals survive in human-dominated landscapes. He has previously taught ecology at the University of Chiang Mai, in Thailand, and the University of Hong Kong, in China, and is author or co-author of several books on the ecology of the Asian tropics.

Richard B. Primack, a Professor at Boston University, is the author of two leading textbooks in conservation biology and is the Editor in Chief of the journal Biological Conservation. He has carried out research in Central America, Malaysia, and Australia, and is currently studying the impact of climate change on plant and animal communities. He is a former President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

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