295 pages, b/w illustrations, 1 b/w map
The Kingdom of Rarities presents a new context for understanding rarity and its implications, both for our understanding of how the natural world works and for what it can teach us about protecting biodiversity during a time of large-scale environmental change. Using cutting-edge science from remote outposts around the world, award-winning author Eric Dinerstein animates the key questions that scientists are asking themselves about why some species are so abundant and others not.
What are the rarest species and why are they most likely to be found in certain types of environments? Which species have always been rare, and which have only recently been made rare? Which should we seek to protect most? Throughout, Dinerstein explores rarity as a central principle within conservation biology, advancing both our understanding of the natural world and inspiring the creation of new tools and technologies that can help us add to our knowledge and design more effective conservation strategies. He focuses on real-time threats to biodiversity, from climate change to habitat fragmentation, and draws on his long and distinguished scientific career to illuminate the concept of rarity for readers across the spectrum of scientific knowledge.
"Eric Dinerstein's engaging new book [is a] [...] zoological travelogue, observing rare species across the planet and contemplating, as he does so, why rarity is profoundly important for our understanding of nature and our efforts to conserve it."
- Stuart Pimm, Nature
"The well-traveled Mr. Dinerstein presents vivid case studies on the world's least common creatures, from a red hummingbird stranded on Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile to a cryptic forest-dwelling bovine in Vietnam [...] gripping."
- The Wall Street Journal
"What makes his book a good read is his deft writing and ability to bring his audience to the places he and his scientific colleagues have visited."
- The Washington Post
"This is a truly fascinating and entertaining read – and a quick one as it is rather hard to put it down once you've started into it – and will no doubt have you looking at rare species in a whole new light, questioning what we really know of them, what their ecological roles truly are, and what might be done to preserve them in a way that is meaningful to their role in the local and global ecosystem."
"Extraordinary and engrossing account [...] with a friendly intimacy, he offers a personal narrative, a travelogue, and a celebration of the natural world, not a polemic. When Dinerstein asks questions about biodiversity, habitat fragmentation, and conservation biology, he is constructive, engaging, and exceptionally well informed. He is also balanced and realistic, daring to ask which species are the most important to protect and why."
"The book provides a superb balance between description, science and conservation. It's an easy, pleasant, and even exciting read, with the science gently fed to the reader as part of the book's adventure narrative."
"What makes an animal rare? Eric Dinerstein explains the nuanced answer in his book."
- The Nature Conservancy
"Dinerstein captures this innate fascination in a worldwide tour of exotic places and spectacular species, from jaguars in the Amazon to birds of paradise in New Guinea. Along the way, he weaves in lessons in ecology as well as passionate calls for conservation action."
"Dinerstein's book offers a kaleidoscopic and highly entertaining picture of some of the world's most remote and diverse ecological hotspots."
- Earth Island Journal
"In prose that is both lyrical and exact, he takes readers through various 'motherlodes of rarities' in search of answers, from Cuba's Zapata Swamp through the jaguar-dense Madre de Dios region of Peru to the still little-known Vietnamese jungle."
"Dinerstein (Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations), Lead Scientist with the World Wildlife Fund, provides nature lovers with an armchair tour of the world, focusing on rare species from New Guinea to Hawaii. In clear, concise prose he discusses the circumstances responsible for rarity like evolution, habitat loss, and war [...] [H]ighly recommended for readers with interests in biology, natural history, and ecology."
- Publishers Weekly
"An evocatively described natural-history tour of the world's rare species [...] Dinerstein enthuses and informs without being overwhelming."
- BBC Wildlife Magazine
"Dinerstein's text is admirably accessible to the non-scientist [...] Besides the passing nods to ethnography, the book is also enlivened by occasional poetic touches, and an unexpectedly numinous regard for the aesthetics of the flora and fauna encountered."
- The Ecologist
"As well as a scientific journey, The Kingdom of Rarities is also an adventure story – to meet the rare species that are central to this tale, the reader travels with the author to exotic locations including remote New Guinea, Hawaii, the heart of the Amazon, and the foothills of the Himalayas [...] this book's topic is fascinating."
- The Guardian GrrlScientist blog
"Excellent example of storytelling, nature writing, and science."
- Greg Laden's Culture as Science ~ Science as Culture blog
"Eric Dinerstein has given us a clear and expert account of a subject of increasing importance for the twenty-first century. The world is filling up with humans and species made rare – to whom we most urgently must devote more of our attention."
- Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
"In colorful prose that conjures up the rich spell of each landscape, Dinerstein takes us along on exhilarating expeditions that crisscross the globe and travel deep into the heart of rare species, while sharing his own rare expertise and a luminous sense of wonder."
- Diane Ackerman, Author of The Zookeeper's Wife
"The Kingdom of Rarities is a rarity itself, a book whose author is so in command of his material that you don't realize how much you're learning; you're too caught up in the adventure of it all."
- Carl Safina, Author of Song for the Blue Ocean
"Why are jaguars rare, despite being South America's most powerful predator? Why, indeed, are most species rare? How can rare species exert a big effect on the landscape's structure and function? If you, too, are open to the fascination that rare animals hold for adventure travelers and passionate ecologists, you'll love the romance and exciting science that this book offers."
- Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Professor of Geography, UCLA
"He has cumulated over 40 years of his studies and experiences to highlight how rare species have developed intricate and complex webs, and how their existence has profound impacts on the ecosystem(s) in which they live [...] expertly weaves in examples to provide a solid context for layperson."
"Dinerstein's accessible prose and informative, inviting style informs the reader without sounding like a textbook or a polemic."
- Rhode Island Natural History Survey
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Eric Dinerstein is Chief Scientist with the World Wildlife Fund, where he has spent the past 24 years working to save rare species globally. He began his career in 1975 studying tigers in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer and later served as a postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Institution studying rhinoceroses predators.