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The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction   book icon  
by David Quammen (1997)

read: 19 December 2012
rating: [+]
categories: best in show, non-fiction

Randomly picked this up at a library booksale. It’s fascinating to read this long and thorough analysis of both the birth of ecology and also the growing concerns about extinctions written for an age where if you didn’t go to Madagascar to see Tenerecs, you might not ever get to see them. Quammen travels to may remote locations in order to get a peek at niche populations of various animals and along the way gives you a primer on how we know what we know about evolution, biology, extinction and finally island biogeography or how animals evolve and/or go extinct in tightly bounded populations which can be islands or it can be isolated stands of rainforest if you happen to be an animal that gets around by going from tree to tree.

This was a hard book to keep going with. I must have started it six weeks ago. It has a lot of interesting (to me) expositions of different animal situations and Quammen going to inspect local populations and then less interesting (to me) discussions of the general field of evolutionary biology and various infighting and a lot of personality stuff that I was less interested in. Also I would get distracted looking up these animals on the internet to see what had happened to them in the last 15 years. Now that I’m done reading it, I may try to see if there is a companion site so I can see what happened to all of those animals. This is one of the best books I have read this decade. Quammen is an amazing writer and researcher as well as having a wry sense of humor that occasionally (but not too often) finds its way into the pages.

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