A Neotropical Companion introduces armchair travelers, field naturalists, and conservationists to the tropics of Central and South America. In recent years the neotropics have been more and more frequently visited by those interested in rain forests and the exotic birds, mammals, insects, and plants of these ecosystems. At the same time scientific knowledge of the neotropics has bourgeoned. A primer for the student and for the scientific amateur, this well-illustrated volume presents a general and up-to-date view of some of the world's most complex natural environments. In addition, it provides the neotropical specialist with a broad look at the entire field of neotropical biology.
After giving an overview of the different kinds of ecosystems in the tropics, the author describes the structure, function, and evolution of tropical rain forests. Tropical trees are then discussed, as are the vast array of vines, orchids, bromeliads, and other plants that live among the branches of the forest giants. A chapter on the "tropical pharmacy" treats the many drugs present in tropical vegetation and the evolutionary influence of these drugs. The book surveys the great diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods of the neotropics and provides separate chapters on tropical savannas and on coastal ecosystems. An epilogue deals with the crucially important issues of the conservation of neotropical environments.
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