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Ernst Mayr is one of the principal architects of the `neo-Darwinian synthesis', which has been the dominant perspective in 20th century evolutionary biology. Jared Diamond is one of the most wide-ranging minds in biology, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Guns, Germs, and Steel'. Mayr and Diamond have produced an authoritative monograph presenting their data and interpretations of the evolution of the birds of the Solomon and Bismark Islands. Mayr's numerous expeditions to do fieldwork in that area, from 1929 to 1976, form the core of his scientific work. Diamond has made four expeditions to the region since 1970 to fill in gaps in the data.
INTRODUCTION; PART 1: NORTHERN MELANESIA'S PHYSICAL AND BIOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENT; 1. Geology and Geological History; 2. Climate; 3. Habitats and Vegetation; 4. Terrestrial Vertebrates Other Than Birds; PART 2: HUMAN HISTORY AND IMPACTS; 5. Human History; 6. Ornithological Exploration of Northern Melanesia; 7. Exterminations of Bird Populations; PART 3: THE NORTHERN MELANESIAN AVIFAUNA; 8. Family Composition; 9. Determinants of Island Species Number; 10. Level of Endemism, Habitat Preference, and Abundance of Each Species; 11. Overwater Dispersal Ability of Each Species; 12. Distributional Ecology; PART 4: COLONIZATION ROUTES; 13. Proximate Origins of Northern Melanesian Populations; 14. Upstream Colonization and Fuanal Dominance; 15. Ultimate Origins of Northern Melanesian Populations; PART 5: TAXONOMIC ANALYSIS: DIFFERENCES AMONG SPECIES; 16. The Problem of Speciation; 17. Stages of Geographical Speciation Among the Birds of Northern Melanesia; 18. Absence of Geographic Variation; 19. Geographic Variation: Subspecies; 20. Geographic Variation: Megasubspecies; 21. Geographic Variation: Allospecies; 22. Completed Speciation; 23. Hybridization; 24. Endemic Species and Genera; PART 6: GEOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS: DIFFERENCES AMONG ISLANDS; 25. Endemism Index; 26. Pairwise Differentiation Index; 27. Pairwise Nonsharing Indices: Differences in Island Species Compositions; 28. The Establishment of Geographic Isolates; 29. Interarchipelagal Barriers; 30. Barriers Within the Bismarcks; 31. Barriers Within the Solomons; 32. Speciation on Fragmented Solomon Islands; 33. Differential Extinction and Species Occurrences on Fragmented Pleistocene Islands; PART 7: SYNTHESIS, CONCLUSIONS, AND PROSPECTS; 34. Conclusions about Speciation; 35. Species Differences, Taxon Cycles, and the Evolution of Dispersal; 36. Promising Directions for Future Research; MAPS; APPENDICES; APPENDIX 1: SYSTEMATIC LIST: BREEDING LAND AND FRESHWATER NATIVE BIRDS OF NORTHERN MELANESIA; APPENDIX 2: NONBREEDING VISITORS TO NORTHERN MELANESIA; APPENDIX 3: INTRODUCED BIRD SPECIES IN NORTHERN MELANESIA; APPENDIX 4: CHRONOLOGIES OF ORNITHOLOGICAL EXPLORATION; APPENDIX 5: ATTRIBUTES OF EACH BIRD SPECIES; APPENDIX 6: EVIDENCE OF OVERWATER DISPERSAL ABILITY OF EACH SPECIES AND ALLOSPECIES IN THE BISMARCKS AND SOLOMONS; APPENDIX 7: DISTRIBUTIONS AND ORIGINS OF NORTHERN MELANESIAN BIRD POPULATIONS; REFERENCES; INDEX
"Abundance of illustrations [...] superb series of nine plates by Douglas Pratt that, for the first time, depict many of the forms in colour [...] This definitive volume will inspire a new set of studies based on genetics and DNA, before too many of the unique island forms disappear. It will remain the ultimate work on island speciation."
- The Quarterly Review of Biology
"A unique and powerful data set with which to examine critical issues in ecology and evolution."