Publisher: Sinaeur Date of Publication: 2006
Price: ISBN: 0 87893 062 0
Pages: xiii + 845 Format: Hardcover

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1 - The science of biogeography; 2 - The history of biogeography; 3 - Physical setting; 4 - Distributions of species; 5 - The geography of communities; 6 - Dispersal and immigration; 7 - Speciation and extinction; 8 - The changing Earth; 9 - Glaciation and biogeographic dynamics of the Pleistocene; 10 - The geography of diversification; 11 - Reconstructing the history of lineages; 12 - Reconstructing the history of biotas; 13 - Island biogeography: patterns in species and richness; 14 - Island biogeography: assembly and evolution of insular communities; 15 - Areography, ecogeographic rules and diversity gradients; 16 - Biodiversity and the geography of extinctions; 17 - Conservation biogeography and the biogeography of humanity; 18 - The frontiers of biogeography.



Biogeography is a rapidly developing area. In the last 10 years the rise of courses, journals, papers and books has been considerable. The fact the subject is a key integrative one, taking ideas from a range of subject areas and applying them to current problems helps fuel this interest especially as major environmental and ecological issues are essentially biogeographic ones as well.

This text is part of the growth of the subject. Now in its third edition only 5 years after the second (testimony to the growth of the subject especially as it took 15 years to get to the second edition!) this text has been seen as one of the key basic books. As with any new edition the question must be to see if the standard has been maintained. In terms of pure statistics we are one chapter less and over 150 pages and one section more than the second edition. Much of the structure remains although this is more on the surface than in the detail. This is no mere re-printing with a few sentences changed here and there - there are some fundamental re-alignments. As last time, we start with an opening unit (the first of six) which seeks to introduce the subject. The two chapters here look at science and history respectively. The aim is to show where, how and why the subject developed as it did. Unit two focusses on the physical environment and its impact upon basic patterns in biogeography. Thus chapter three looks at the broad abiotic environment whilst chapter four focusses on species distribution and chapter five on community geography. It's here that the first obvious changes are noted. In the second edition this work is seen as focussing on distributions whilst the third edition is more concerned about the ecological and spatial dimensions. These might be seen as trivial but they actually cut to the heart of the subject's development - the notion that it's more than just observation: it can learn and grow in theoretical terms as well. Unit three looks at palaeobiogeography and key global-scale processes. The intention is to focus on dispersal (either as emigrants or as new species - chapters six and seven) or the processes that caused/necessitated such changes i.e. tectonic and glacial forces (chapters 8 and 9). This is linked to unit four which studies the evidence we use to reconstruct biogeographical patterns. Chapter 10 outlines the spatial parameters of diversification, the resulting organismic patterns (realms etc) and the ecological processes that underpin them. Subsequent chapters (11 and 12) take this information to examine ways of reconstructing past events. So far the work has ranged over a range of scales (although most notably global) and a very wide range of topics. Unit six focusses on one key area - island biogeography. Although the unit is entitled 'ecological biogeography' the focus is very much of the notion of the island and what we can glean from its study (chapters 13 and 14). This leaves chapter 15 to cover areography (the study of areas), the rules stemming from this and the notion of gradients in promoting change. A final unit looks at conservation and the future of the subject. Although these don't obviously sit well together the emphasis is on the way in which the study of biogeography can help solve current problems (i.e. conservation and the impact of people - chapters 16 and 17) and look to the future (chapter 18).

As said above, this is a thorough revision from the basic text to the welcome reorganisation of chapters and units. There's no doubt that the new arrangement makes both theoretical and practical sense. Other changes focus on the book production. The second edition, although well illustrated, does not have the same quality of layout as the third. This one is easier to read and the diagrams are of far better quality even if repeated from the old text.There are also changes to the content with some noticeable additions e.g. Bailey's Ecoregions concept and more recent references. However, the same wide range of examples giving a truly global coverage is maintained. Generally, new editions are seen as little more than smartening up of a few text points. This, however, is a considerable upgrade. The second edition was fast becoming cited as the key text for those wishing to take biogeography seriously. The third edition has cemented this reputation - simply, it should be seen as an absolute 'must-buy' for both personal and institution libraries.


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