❴PDF / Epub❵ ★ The Song of the Dodo Author David Quammen – 91videos.co

Wildlife biologist and author Aldrin Mallari lent me a copy of this staggering book after knowing I had read Wild Thoughts From Wild Places I think I learned about biogeography from reading this book than talking to a dozen biologists The final image of the last Dodo on earth hunkering down in the jungle is haunting Whenever I hear a Dutch ecologist try to lecture me about how Filipinos are ruining their environment, Quammen s descriptions of how the Dutch sailors clubbed and hunted to extinction the Dodo always pop to mind But I keep silent. This book gets high marks for its large scope covering many of the notable species extinctions and current vulnerable island populations and creating a convincing link between the two This book does well when the author talks about the history of the animal species and those naturalists who did the early work like Darwin and Wallace The author is quite knowledgeable and a truth seeker The tone is not preachy whatsoever although there is an inconsistent approach to describing the species Now for the negative The execution of the chapters felt like following a complicated m bius strip or Escher diagram from the beginning to the end The author just went everywhere in random directions Poor big picture consolidation in the book with at times an excessively casual style of writing but sans the humor of a Tim Cahill Like Cahill, the author wrote articles for Outside magazine for many years and he seems quite knowledgeable about flora and fauna to be sure So reading this weighty tome felt like reading eighty short articles poorly spliced together There were too many random scientists and names dropped as the author traipsed through various island jungles over decades of writing and research I think if the author told the stories in a different way, it would have made all the difference for me I like the approach Jared Diamond, one of his contemporaries, takes You know he is there in the story but keeping his first person distance and not accidentally making the story about him The sections on the Komodo Dragon and the Dodo bird were five star material but just too short, they make up less than 10% of the book The author absolutely proved the basic premise of the book, the effects of island species vulnerability and variations, within the first 200 to 300 pages So the next six 600 pages were at times individually interesting depending on the story told but became superfluous to advancing the thesis I would rate Song of the Dodo three stars overall The information content gets five stars and the organization and writing closer to two or three stars A lot of potential especially if you are a science buff and a worthwhile read but frustrating for the reasons I mentioned above. David Quammen S Book, The Song Of The Dodo, Is A Brilliant, Stirring Work, Breathtaking In Its Scope, Far Reaching In Its Message A Crucial Book In Precarious Times, Which Radically Alters The Way In Which We Understand The Natural World And Our Place In That World It S Also A Book Full Of Entertainment And Wonders In The Song Of The Dodo, We Follow Quammen S Keen Intellect Through The Ideas, Theories, And Experiments Of Prominent Naturalists Of The Last Two Centuries We Trail After Him As He Travels The World, Tracking The Subject Of Island Biogeography, Which Encompasses Nothing Less Than The Study Of The Origin And Extinction Of All Species Why Is This Island Idea So Important Because Islands Are Where Species Most Commonly Go Extinct And Because, As Quammen Points Out, We Live In An Age When All Of Earth S Landscapes Are Being Chopped Into Island Like Fragments By Human Activity Through His Eyes, We Glimpse The Nature Of Evolution And Extinction, And In So Doing Come To Understand The Monumental Diversity Of Our Planet, And The Importance Of Preserving Its Wild Landscapes, Animals, And Plants We Also Meet Some Fascinating Human Characters By The Book S End We Are Wiser, And Deeply Concerned, But Quammen Leaves Us With A Message Of Excitement And Hope This is the first book I ve read by Quammen, an imminently talented journalist who perfectly balances the information and writing style of the book He follows a chronological progression of island biogeography from Darwin through Jared Diamond who became hugely famous shortly after the release of this book Quammen s travelogues are excellent, combining a sympathetic, open perspective that is adventurous and engaged Late in the book, Quammen describes a climb to the nest of a Mauritius kestrel When I m thirty feet up, a tree branch flicks off my glasses, which drop to the ground I could go down and retrieve them, sure, that would be sensible, but I d fall too far behind the cheerful maniacs Do you trust this vine I call up to Jones Gangly but tall, he must weigh two hundred pounds, and from this angle I can appreciate the size of his feet Not greatly We ratchet our way upward, slowly, on the cliff face It isn t Half Dome but it s perilous than the average birdwatching stroll We rise out above the valley As we move beyond the treetops, I give myself an explicit mental reminder Fall from here and you don t go home Finally, Jones and I catch up with Lewis on a narrow rock shelf, like a window ledge ten stories above Lexington Avenue I gaze out at the panorama the forested canyon below us, the deer ranch beyond, and the cane plantation beyond that, all spreading westward for five miles to the crescent of beach and then the great turquoise plane of the Indian Ocean 562 3 It s Quammen s excitement and sensitivty that inspire the reader to continue and to care, to take notice of humanity s influence carving nature into islands, resulting in astonishing rates of extinction and ecosystem decay But Quammen urges us to cling to hope, not despair, because besides being fruitless it s far less exciting than hope, however slim 636 A fantastic book whose only flaw is that it requires the reader to keep track of various storylines.Let s get my only complaint out of the way Quammen does a good job of making us feel like we are part of the investigation into island biogeography but he does so by mixing several storylines together These are the participants, locations and the time they occur, as they occur in the first unit.Wallace s 1856 trip from Singapore to LambokQuammen s recent trip to LambokNicolo di Conti s trip to to the Malay ArchipelagoThe ark and creationWallace s trip again Quammen in MadagascarLyle and Darwin in EnglandQuammen in Madagascar again Charles Lyell s trip 1856, to the Madieras Atlantic Ocean Darwin s Beagle travels 1831Wallace in Brazil, 1848Quammen s travels in Brazil, modernWallace in Malaysia, 1854Wallace in Dobo, 1857 Aru Islands all this in Unit 1 The book ends with Quammen in the Aru islands around 140 years after Wallace.Maybe breaking the stories into bite sized pieces makes them digestible but Quammen s own trip in Malaysia takes about 50 pages and is spread out over 630 pages.I guess that s the difference between a very interesting book on modern science and a not so interesting science textbook And this book is interesting Every little piece fits together nicely and explains the subject well.I like the way the author followed in the tracks of the people he writes about I certainly felt a bit of a thrill in Australia, inland of Sydney, reading Darwin s account of the Beagle voyage and seeing the same sights he did He described how he saw convicts working the stone to make steps and around Katoomba, I saw those very steps I had the same feeling while traveling across Canada and reading a history of Canada I read it as I crossed the Rockies and really got a feel for how important the railway was in a way that I didn t in history class.The subject is the ecology of islands but it is much than that Almost any place on earth can be described as an island for various animal groups National parks in Korea and elsewhere are islands of wilderness in an urban or agricultural sea Caves are islands how do cave species cross lighted ground to another cave Mountain tops are islands separated by valleys and valleys can be islands separated by mountains Lakes are islands and deep areas in those lakes can also be islands, separated from other deep areas by shallow areas One species of snake described in the book lived only in riffles or fast moving water in a few rivers Those sets of rapids were separated by slow moving water that was home to larger snakes that preyed on them Suburban residential blocks are grassy islands that are surrounded by treacherous asphaltSome animals can travel from island to island Most birds, but surprisingly, not all, fit this group Small predators like foxes or raccoondogs can also cross from one wilderness to another Large predators or herbivores cannot Tigers, bears and deer all have trouble crossing from safe harbor to safe harborA key part of island biogeography is determining how many species can live on an island Typically the number of species on an island remains the same even while some species die out and new ones enter This part of the book reminded me of my biology classes at university where I studied evolution but apparently forgot a lot until this book, much grippingly, refreshed my memory If you want to learn about evolution, this is the book.The other side of new species evolving is older species going extinct In most of history, the number of new species appearing equaled the number disappearing Now, the extinction rate has increased 100 times and the end of the book has the required warnings and doom and gloom To despair of the entire situation is another reasonable alternative The content of this book affects Korea There is a lot about the appropriate size of wildlife parks Signs at Seorak Park claim there are bears in the park and Chilisan National Park has had researchers trying to find bears there They may exist but are there enough to maintain a longterm population As a qualified estimate from the book, a population of 50 is required to maintain a healthy population I suppose the book could be used as justification for turning the whole DMZ into a park come reunification Breaking it into farmland or even crossing it with highways will significantly reduce it s usefulness to large bodied wildlife.If you are interested in travelling to almost any island, this book will tell you about that island Again, if you want to understand evolution, this is the book If you are interested in the pragmatic details of wilderness conservation, this is the book. One of my all time favorite books this was a re read by my favorite natural history author Anyone who likes Stephen Jay Gould or Howard Zinn style writing will enjoy David Quammen Not only is it beautifully written, it intertwines stories of the development of the theory of evolution with modern scientific research and travel, and serves as a call to arms to save the last great wild places. This is a book about history Animals and plants that once were and are no , and how we should interpret that fact When the question, Why was asked, a new science was born Quammen spends considerable effort building a context for this science At first there were only observations, lists of features, catalogues of previously unknown species Haphazard collections of these curiosities of nature captured the interest of Victorian naturalists Volumes were filled The list of new species seemed interminable All of this was happening against a backdrop of belief in religious doctrine Special creation, an earth whose age was reckoned in terms of thousands rather than millions of years, and of course, Noah s ark One scholar tried to accommodate the crowd with a new ark designa boxy, three story structure resembling a Super 8 motel, beneath which appears no trace of a hull Unquestionably it would have allowed efficient division of space into many stalls and cages, but it doesn t look seaworthy By the end of the seventeenth century, naturalists were aware of 500 bird species, 150 quadruped species, and about 10,000 species of invertebrates Fifty years later, when Linnaeus began putting things in order, those numbers were still growing quickly Linnaeus himself named and catalogued almost 6,000 species The ark was overbookedChapter 5 Despite their unsystematic methodologies, some began to discover patterns As early as 1772 Johann Reinhold Forster noticed that big islands seemed to harbor diverse species than small islands Why Alfred Russel Wallace wrote in the 1850 s that old islands had unique endemic species than newer ones Why Mammals on isolated islands tended toward dwarfism while reptiles tended toward gigantism e.g Pleistocene miniature elephants on Sicily and the modern Komodo dragon, respectively Again, why Looking for those answers fed the new science.Conjecture about reasons for speciation and extinction have shifted in context and conceptual framework over time Quammen defines, contextualizes, and illustrates a list of specific processes his insular menu that are critical to understanding the process of speciation and of extinction For adaptive radiation he offers the story of the tenrec, an insectivore which branched into over 30 species all dwelling exclusively on Madagascar To highlight the significance of reproductive isolation, he recounts Wallace s examination of two neighboring islands, Bali and Lombok The wildlife of Bali was similar to the wildlife of Borneo on nearby Lombok, a dissimilar array of families were variants of New Guinea s The split later named the Wallace line ran the length of the Malay Archipelago, and the key piece of information would later be found in the geologic origins of the archipelago To illustrate dispersal, Quammen describes the repopulation of Rakata, the barren aftermath of Krakatoa The 30 pound ground dwelling dodo that once inhabited Madagascar is a classic case of loss of defensive adaptation Examined separately, each of these processes appears obvious They become complicated because in the real word they do not operate separately In case after case, Quammen demonstrates how an obvious hypothesis morphs into a complicated historical process once the facts are examined If there is a single lesson to be learned, it is that speciation and extinction are not simple processes.A conceptual focus of his book is the species area relationship It is a reworking of the relationship between island size and species diversity noticed by Foster It s the reason Quammen begins with island biogeography The area of an island is easily computed The 18th century intuitive conjecture received mathematical support in the 20th century when Philip Darlington censused amphibian and reptile species in the Antilles His data based generalization was that the division of area by ten divides amphibian and reptile fauna by two Chapter 108 Frank Preston, an engineer and conservationist, summarized his observations about relative abundance of a species into another mathematical formula the canonical distribution of commoness and rarity Fortunately, Quammen focuses on the implication of Preston s conclusion, rather than the mathematical modelit is not possible to preserve in a State or National Park a complete replica on a small scale of the fauna and flora of a much larger areaChapter 109 Why The answer relies on making the distinction between a sample and an isolate Preserves may begin as samples They end up as isolates Isolates reduce immigration to the value of zero, a major disruption to the immigration extinction balance It s a chilling conclusion if the hypothesis is correct.A descriptive science was struggling to become a predictive science The defining moment was the equilibrium model developed by Robert MacArthur and E.O Wilson in the 1960 s They quantified the factors controlling extinction and immigration on an island in order to predict species impoverishment The prediction implied a set point of equilibrium The second leap they made was the analogy between actual islands and ecological islands habitats separated by physical barriersliteral islands, surrounded by water, are only one sort of insular situation Also to be considered are virtual islands, surrounded by other kinds of barrierChapter 122 A corollary of this model is that there is a balance between immigration and extinction back to the isolate vs sample distinction , and that this balance can be expressed mathematically James Brown studied small mammals in the American Great Basin region Again, Quammen summarizesInsularization, for the Great Basin mountaintop communities, entailed an inexorable decline in diversity Does this sound ominous Does it sound familiar The same phenomenon would eventually be known by various labels, one of which is ecosystem decayChapter 122 Once the connection between habitat fragmentation and insularity was made, the field of applied biogeography was launched It s a controversial field Eloquently supported by Wilson and Jared Diamond, the resulting models are still only hypotheses Despite Quammen s obvious leanings, he carefully lays out the position of opponents It s a controversy that is fraught with consequence Misapplication of the model will be an executioner s axe for species deemed unviable prematurely The crux of the matter is Can something as complex as biodiversity ever be reduced to a workable model Quammen has written a truly scientific book for the unscientific layperson He intersperses essays with the flavor of travelogue and colorful biographical sketches of key field researchers with the tough scientific hypotheses they are investigating, and succeeds in holding the reader s interest through all of some seven hundred plus pages He addresses the emotional roots of conservation with hard science Yes, all species are not equal Some, like the panda, are charismatic to the general public But there is a larger context that will affect their survival That context includes examination of rare, highly specialized, and vulnerable species To understand the survival of this broader category, we need to understand the real world of species dynamics Thus, Quammen is able to link emotional with ethical and scientific concerns That link is eloquently expressed when Quammen visits Dan Simberloff, the leading critic of the equilibrium model as proposed by Jared Diamond Simberloff stopped visiting the Florida Keys sites of the Mangrove experiments he once conducted with E.O WilsonI was driving down to one of the field sites.I came off Seven Mile bridge, passed over the first key.from Missouri Key I would see the trees of Ohio Key Instead of Ohio Key I didn t see anything Then, when I got to the end of Missouri Key, I could see that the reason was, there were no trees there The entire key, which would have been in the range of four acres, had been leveled and cleared It was now all crushed coral It had been turned into a trailer park.I was so He pauses He starts again I drove right over it into the next key, which is Bahia Honda, where the state park is And I pulled over, and cried I couldn t handle it It was just so sad And it so epitomized what was happening in the Keys.That s why I stopped working there, he saysChapter 138 This is not an easy book The material is an assemblage of 178 untitled chapters grouped into ten broad headings The first hundred pages is devoted almost entirely to Wallace s contribution vs Darwin s to the theory of natural selection The chapters jump back and forth in time as Quammen seeks to tie together each concept with both historical antecedents and modern day field research The most vivid chapters are anecdotal such as a dicey foray into the interior of Komodo Island after watching a feeding staged for the tourists Quammen finds a guide to take him to Loh Sabita Valleywhere the deer are not tame, the water is not bottled, goat carcasses don t fall from the sky, and the komodos still live by their skill as huntersChapter 45 Another memorable story is the mysterious saga of bird extinction on Guam Quammen accompanies a herpetologist on his nightly rounds Quammen is such a vivid writer that the casual reader could be satisfied merely to be entertained by these tales However, the attempt to understand the harder scientific implications is well worth the extra effort and a lot of effort is required due to the embedded structure of this book I found it necessary to approach the material as if reading a textbook, taking notes at the end of each chapter in order to follow the scientific thread A google search reveals that several study guides to the book are available The book is assigned reading in several college courses Quammen s intent, however, is obviously to draw the general reader into the realm of real science As with all such books, the reader s gain will be proportional to his effort, and in the end, well rewarded.NOTES Interesting comments from college students who read the book as part of their class.http www.colorado.edu journalism ceAn annotated bibliography of books about environment and conservation science.I recommend reading the paper edition of this book Many of the islands mentioned are quite small and obscure There are a number of helpful maps in the book which are difficult to view on an e reader Some supplemental maps online can be found for Aru www.peterloud.co.uk indonesia aru2.gif and the islands of Flores and Timor I have owned a copy of The Song of the Dodo for several years but at 625 pages, 178 chapters it seemed a bit daunting to dive into There never seemed to be enough hours in the day But after reading Quammen s The Reluctant Mr Darwin, I felt it was time to give it a go And go I did I think a good editor could have probably cut this tome down to 623 pages, which is my backhanded way of saying that TSOTD is a monumental book on natural history, well worth the time you need to invest into all 178 chapters You ll never look at the natural world in the same way again Quammen does a skillful job of balancing scientific chapters with his worldly travels and adventures, taking us to exotic places around the globe with historical or environmental significance But the real power in the book is his exploration into the development of ecology, basically beginning when the science found its chops, i.e the data it had been collecting was actually put to use After finishing The Song of the Dodo, I feel that I have earned the equivalent of a PhD in island biogeography I wonder if I can use this on my r sum If I had read this book 25 years ago, I would have found my way to an ecology department at some university.Early in the book the author describes the stack of photocopies of scientific papers weighing eighteen pounds including the staples, he has on his desk By his own admission, he could have used the assemblage in the back of his truck to provide extra weight on icy roads in winter but instead, Quammen chose to read them and synthesize the information for us presenting them in layman s terms, explaining the jargon minimum viable population, area species relationships, equilibrium theory, inbreeding depression, et cetera Lucky for us he did By the end of the book we have a real sense of just how endangered endangered species really are The dodo was only one of the first to go Powerful book David Quammen can write compelling science with a sense of humor This is a six star book, but I only have five to award. Disclaimer I m only about a third of the way through, I ll update this review as I go So far This book is physically WEIGHTY At first, I was pleased about this if it s a good read give me of it but as I went I grew and disappointed.No, the length isn t really important, except that I feel a fine editor could have cut this into a 4 star book with ease Quammen tells a compelling narrative of interesting, oft overlooked biologists such as Alfred Wallace, whose story alone was worth the read The personal narratives and conversations are hit and miss I didn t love the author waxing poetic about viewing a pile of giant tortoises with his native guide, but I absolutely adored his conversations with a scientist studying tenrecs That editor could give Quammen the benefit of the doubt leave all these colorful digressions in However, I would humbly suggest that this story need not be punctuated with a solid page of Latin names of island creatures, which the author himself bids me to forget immediately the titles of twenty papers on island biogeography that are on the author s desk a half page about a slightly mistranslated English sign in IndonesiaI can t even imagine how those survived the editing process But they are just symptomatic of the larger problem decadence Wherever Quammen could proffer 2 or 3 or 5 exampleshe puts 20 A short explanation of the different locations of giant tortoise species becomes a chapter, a showy rug analogy drags on for paragraphs Editor The author is great, GREAT, when in the middle of a chapter on some historical biologist, cutting through the bushy undergrowth to a brilliant scientific discovery He does a good job summarizing scientific topics in an understandable way He is pretty decent at throwing in relevant digressions from his personal experience to enrich the story In fact overall I think the author did everything that an author should be expected to do The editor, though, needs to sack up and get out the machete. No rating I read about a fourth and then skim read about half His tone and attitude is so much accusatory and chicken little that what particles of real information that I can get about island isolation and other historic evolutionary boundaries, is lost within his sarcasm and blaming Not for me his attitude, nor his disrespect He writes of humans as if they were bacteria He actually fat shames too, tourists or any one who he sees as action or appearance worthy for ridicule Those beefy Australians etc I did get one nugget out of this And that is that line of demarcation between species types that runs between those two islands placed in that line near east end of the general Java area And how one is on land continental bridge and one is not So despite there being only 20 miles between them these two islands , the history and evolution of their animal and especially mammal types are entirely different Obviously one of the islands, the west one it has traveled there and was once part of the continent itself While the other never was It also needs an immense edit as so many of the page after page tangent asides and travelogue minutia that has absolutely nothing to do with the title focus has been included Why Then title it appropriately as a travelogue It still doesn t work, IMHO And it doesn t help that he sees ecosystems as rather stuck in time features he has quite a few dated theories as belief cores on top of it.It s truly bad when a scientist becomes so negative and sour that they write with this tone as a near constant As if humans should all just take numbers in some lottery fashion and commit suicide by 75% and then the rest should go back to live in caves so that no other species has a disadvantage Nature LAUGHS at his attitude, in truth Because before homo and ever since homo there have always been majority species extinctions At some points almost 80 or 90% of all living things botany as well as biology have evolved to other forms or had their own categories become extinct NOTHING is ever in freeze frame He knows this Too much angry ire to sift through here in order to get to the observational science, IMHO Others may surely want to sift I do not.