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Life Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Sable Island: The Strange Origins and Curious History of A Dune Adrift in the Atlantic by Marq De Villiers, Sheila Hirtle (Walker & Company) From Publishers Weekly
This engaging natural history celebrates one of the world's most precarious landscapes, a sand spit 30 miles long and less than a mile wide, plunked down 100 miles from the Canadian coast. Continually gouged by wind and wave and stingily replenished with sand by the currents swirling around it, the evanescent but intractable island has wrecked hundreds of ships over the centuries while sheltering enough greenery and fresh water to maintain a herd of wild horses. De Villiers and Hirtle (coauthors of Sahara: The Extraordinary History of the World's Largest Desert) explore the geological and oceanographic forces that shaped and maintain the island and the flora and fauna that cling to it. They also examine its place in human history, regaling readers with tales of the shipwreck tragedies that darken its past and recalling the many odd little communities of castaways, lifeguards and scientists that have washed up on its beaches. The island and its environs are now threatened by oil and gas drilling, rising sea levels and an ominous drift toward the continental shelf and the deep-sea abyss beyond. But while it lasts, a dynamic equilibrium fleetingly perched atop titanic forces of nature, the island is an apt metaphor for life itself. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Global Mountain Biodiversity by E. M. Spehn, Christian Korner (Parthenon Publishing, CRC Press) is the result of the first global conference on mountain biodiversity, and is a contribution to the International Year of Mountains, 2002. The Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment program is a Special Target Area Region project of DIVERSITAS (UNESCO and UNEP). Biological diversity is essential for the integrity of mountain ecosystems and this dependency is likely to increase as environmental (climate) and social conditions change. Steep terrain and climate, and severe land-use pressure cause mountain ecosystems to rank among the world's most endangered landscapes. The 28 chapters in this book represent research on the biological riches in all major mountain ranges of the world, and synthesize existing knowledge on mountain biodiversity - from diversity of bacteria, plants and animals to human diversity. The book is divided into five sections: an introduction providing an overview of the issues; plant and animal diversity; climate change and mountain biodiversity; land use and conservation; and a synthesis.

Contents: Mountain biodiversity: its causes and function: an overview
Intraspecific genetic diversity in alpine plants
Causes and consequences of alpine vascular plant diversity in the Rocky Mountains
Biodiversity of the vascular timberline flora in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada
Plant species richness and endemism of upper montane forests and timberline habitats in the Bolivian Andes
Biotope patterns, phytodiversity and forestline in the Andes, based on GIS and remote sensing data
Multi-scale patterns in plant species richness of European high mountain vegetation
Environmental determinants of vascular plant species richness in the Swiss alpine zone
Quantitative basic data on a geographical scheme of the florogenesis of the Central Asian high mountains and adjacent regions
Cold spots in the highest mountains of the world - diversity patterns and gradients in the flora of the Karakorum
Patterns of plant species diversity of the northeastern Tibetan plateau, Qinghai, China
Factors influencing the spatial restriction of vascular plant species in the alpine archipelago of Australia
Biodiversity of the subalpine forest/grassland ecotone of the Andringitra Massif, Madagascar
Diversity in primary succession: the chronosequence of a glacier foreland
Status and trends in diversity of alpine vertebrates in the northwestern United States
Potential effects of climate change on alpine and nival plants in the Alps
Variations in community structure and growth rates of high Andean plants with climatic fluctuations
A scenario for mammal and bird diversity in the Snowy Mountains in relation to climate change
Modeling and monitoring ecosystem responses to climate change in three North American mountain ranges
Scenarios of plant diversity in South African mountain ranges to climate change
Biodiversity in mountain medicinal plants and possible impacts of climatic change
Land use and biodiversity in upland pastures in Ethiopia
Balancing conservation of biodiversity and economic profit in the high Venezuelan Andes: Is fallow agriculture an alternative?
Conserving mountain biodiversity in protected areas
How effective is protected area management in mountains?
National action plans for mountain biodiversity conservation and research
A global assessment of mountain biodiversity synthesis


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