Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds

Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds

by David W. Steadman
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226771423

ISBN-13: 9780226771427

Pub. Date: 10/01/2006

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Sprinkled across the tropical Pacific, the innumerable islands of Oceania are home to some of the most unique bird communities on the planet, and they sustain species found nowhere else on earth. Many of the birds that live in this region are endangered, however; many more have become extinct as a result of human activity, in both recent and prehistoric

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Overview

Sprinkled across the tropical Pacific, the innumerable islands of Oceania are home to some of the most unique bird communities on the planet, and they sustain species found nowhere else on earth. Many of the birds that live in this region are endangered, however; many more have become extinct as a result of human activity, in both recent and prehistoric times.

Reconstructing the avian world in the same way archeologists re-create ancient human societies, David Steadman—a leading authority on tropical Pacific avian paleontology—has spent the past two decades in the field, digging through layers of soil in search of the bones that serve as clues to the ancient past of island bird communities. His years of indefatigable research and analysis are the foundation for Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds, a monumental study of the landbirds of tropical Pacific islands—especially those from Fiji eastward to Easter Island—and an intricate history of the patterns and processes of island biology over time. 

Using information gleaned from prehistoric specimens, Steadman reconstructs the birdlife of tropical Pacific islands as it existed before the arrival of humans and in so doing corrects the assumption that small, remote islands were unable to support rich assemblages of plants and animals. Easter Island, for example, though devoid of wildlife today, was the world’s richest seabird habitat before Polynesians arrived more than a millennium ago. The forests of less isolated islands in the Pacific likewise teemed with megapodes, rails, pigeons, parrots, kingfishers, and songbirds at first human contact. 

By synthesizing data from the distant past, Steadman hopes to inform present conservation programs. Grounded in geology, paleontology, and archeology, but biological at its core, Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds is an exceptional work of unparalleled scholarship that will stimulate creative discussions of terrestrial life on oceanic islands for years to come.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226771427
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
10/01/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................ix
Acknowledgments....................xiii
Part I 1 Geography and Geology....................3
2 Terrestrial Flora and Fauna....................40
3 Human History....................71
4 Birds Living and Dead, on Islands and in Museums....................88
Part II 5 Melanesia....................111
6 West Polynesia....................160
7 East Polynesia....................209
8 Micronesia and Remote Central Pacific Islands....................253
Part III 9 Megapodes....................287
10 Rails....................296
11 Pigeons and Doves....................320
12 Parrots....................342
13 Other Nonpasserine Landbirds....................352
14 Passerines....................368
15 Seabirds....................386
Part IV 16 Extinction....................405
17 Dispersal, Colonization, and Faunal Attenuation....................418
18 Equilibrium and Turnover....................449
19 Species-Area Relationships....................462
20 Community Ecology....................481
21 Conservation Biology....................496
22 Conclusions, and Suggestions for Future Research....................510
Appendix....................521
Literature Cited....................529
Systematic Index....................575
General Index....................587

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