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The New Neotropical Companion is the completely revised and expanded edition of A Neotropical Companion, which has helped thousands of people to understand the complex ecology and natural history of the most species-rich area on Earth, the American tropics. Featuring stunning colour photos throughout, it is a sweeping and cutting-edge account of tropical ecology that includes not only tropical rain forests but also other ecosystems such as cloud forests, rivers, savannas, and mountains. This is the only guide to the American tropics that is all-inclusive, encompassing the entire region's ecology and the amazing relationships among species rather than focusing just on species identification.
The New Neotropical Companion is a book unlike any other. Here, you will learn how to recognize distinctive ecological patterns of rain forests and other habitats and to interpret how these remarkable ecosystems function – everything is explained in clear and engaging prose free of jargon. You will also be introduced to the region's astonishing plant and animal life.
Informative and entertaining, The New Neotropical Companion is a pleasurable escape for armchair naturalists, and visitors to the American tropics will want to refer to this book before, during, and after their trip.
In his preface the author explains his choice to change the title:
"[...] And thus it is that I chose to revise A Neotropical Companion and call it The New Neotropical Companion. It is new. It has been written to be much less academic in tone. I have adapted some of the former edition to this new editions and, as well, borrowed liberal from my 2011 text, Tropical Ecology, converting the academic writing to a more user-friendly and generalized treatment."
How to Use This Book 12
1 Welcome to the Torrid Zone 15
2 Why It Is Hot, Humid, and Rainy in the Tropics 29
3 Rain Forest: The Realm of the Plants 39
4 Finding Animals in Rain Forest 58
5 Sun Plus Rain Equals Rain Forest 73
6 Essential Dirt: Soils and Cycling 81
7 If a Tree Falls . . . Rain Forest Disturbance Dynamics 95
8 Evolutionary Cornucopia 113
9 Why Are There So Many Species? 134
10 Tropical Intimacy: Mutualism and Coevolution 155
11 Evolutionary Arms Races: More Coevolution, More Complexity 181
12 Cruising the Rivers to the Sea 205
13 Scaling the Andes 235
14 Don't Miss the Savannas and Dry Forests 250
15 Neotropical Birds: The Bustling Crowd 262
16 From Monkeys to Tarantulas: Endless Eccentricities 319
17 Human Ecology in the Tropics 365
18 The Future of the Neotropics 377
Appendix Words of Caution: Be Sure to Read This 389
Further Reading 392
"For visitors from the temperate zone, the nature of the American tropics is exciting but very confusing. The dazzling diversity of plants and animals can seem overwhelming. In The New Neotropical Companion, John Kricher, a gifted scientist and communicator, brings order out of this chaos. With clear, lively language, he describes the patterns of tropical ecology and natural history in an accessible and engaging way – it's both tremendously educational and fun to read. Now enhanced with abundant photographs, The New Neotropical Companion is essential reading for anyone intrigued by the wonderful biodiversity south of the border."
– Kenn Kaufman, author of Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America
"My original copy of John Kricher's 'little green book' is stained and battered from three decades of tropical travel – which is why I'm delighted that Kricher has produced The New Neotropical Companion, a truly landmark revision of his classic: bigger, better, lushly illustrated, but with the same chatty, accessible tone that makes John the perfect guide to the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Whether you're going to the tropics for the first time or the twentieth, this superb new edition is utterly indispensable reading."
– Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind
"Seeing my beloved Neotropical Companion updated, laced with new studies, and bursting with lavish color photographs is an answered prayer. Kricher is the ebullient professor we all wish we'd had, truly our companion on a quest to understand what makes the tropics so hot, and so cool. In this compulsively readable volume, he has constructed something much like the tropics themselves: astoundingly diverse, mysterious, colorful, and rich with the unexpected."
– Julie Zickefoose, author of Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest
Reviews of A Neotropical Companion:
"John Kricher's Neotropical Companion is an incredible accretion of facts, figures and anecdotes. Kricher outlines the region's ecology, pharmacology, evolutionary theory, anthropology, climatology, ornithology and conservation, with lots of personal stories to bring it all to life."
– Simon Garrett, Times Literary Supplement
"The book is exactly what it says it is, a companion to take with you on your travels in the New World tropics."
– Journal of Natural History
"Well-illustrated and beautifully written [...] [A Neotropical Companion] contains a wealth of information, explanations and curious facts about the region's natural history, and is the kind of overview that Alfred Russel Wallace, Henry Bates and other early scientific explorers of Amazonia would have given fingers from their collecting hand to have possessed."
– Adrian Barnett, New Scientist
"Kricher has created a highly readable, comprehensive overview of Neotropical ecosystems, which can serve on many levels: as a traveler's companion, as an introductory text for students, or as recreational reading material for those interested in tropical ecosystems."