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A Neotropical Companion [Paperback]

John Kricher , Mark Plotkin
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 16, 1999 0691009740 978-0691009742 2nd, Revised

A Neotropical Companion is an extraordinarily readable introduction to the American tropics, the lands of Central and South America, their remarkable rainforests and other ecosystems, and the creatures that live there. It is the most comprehensive one-volume guide to the Neotropics available today. Widely praised in its first edition, it remains a book of unparalleled value to tourists, students, and scientists alike. This second edition has been substantially revised and expanded to incorporate the abundance of new scientific information that has been produced since it was first published in 1989. Major additions have been made to every chapter, and new chapters have been added on Neotropical ecosystems, human ecology, and the effects of deforestation. Biodiversity and its preservation are discussed throughout the book, and Neotropical evolution is described in detail. This new edition offers all new drawings and photographs, many of them in color.

As enthusiastic readers of the first edition will attest, this is a charming book. Wearing his learning lightly and writing with ease and humor, John Kricher presents the complexities of tropical ecology as accessible and nonintimidating. Kricher is so thoroughly knowledgeable and the book is so complete in its coverage that general readers and ecotourists will not need any other book to help them identify and understand the plants and animals, from birds to bugs, that they will encounter in their travels to the New World tropics. At the same time, it will fascinate armchair travelers and students who may get no closer to the Neotropics than this engagingly written book.

Frequently Bought Together

A Neotropical Companion + Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America + The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Zona Tropical Publications)
Price for all three: $63.31

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Editorial Reviews


One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1998

"The book is exactly what it says it is, a companion to take with you on your travels in the New World tropics. . . . The author has written . . . with just the right amount of informality and humor."--Journal of Natural History

"An intense and lively field guide. . .compact and richly substantive"--Scientific American

About the Author

John Kricher is Professor of Biology at Wheaton College, where he is the first recipient of the Bojan Hamlin Jennings Chair in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Among the many books he has written are A Field Guide to Ecology of Eastern Forests and A Field Guide to Ecology of Western Forests.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 2nd, Revised edition (August 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691009740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691009742
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is just about the best introduction to the natural history of the New World tropics available and is a real bargain at this price. Another good alternative is "Tropical Nature" by Forsyth and Miyata.

I have been using this book since the first edition came out and now have both. It's also one of the books I try to pick up used to give to budding tropical naturalists. And to judge by the number of first-time visitors who carry this book, it is still proving extremely popular. I like the way the author has tried to give a broad overview of the important themes without compromising accuracy. Besides explanations of ecological processes and descriptions of wildlife, there is a strong emphasis on conservation with the final chapter devoted to "Deforestation and Conservation of Diversity". As a companion to the tropical naturalist this will be hard to beat.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introductory Text May 19, 2004
I found Kricher's text to be an enlightening, easy read for those interested in learning a subject they're not too familiar with. His explanations are satisfactory and he provides a broad, encyclopedic insight into the Neotropics as well as references for further reading. I also found his quips to be a nice break from the dry and tiresome technicalities that the topic often entails. Overall I think his book provides exactly what it he intended: an introductory text into Neotropical ecology.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A recommended book for the traveler and scientist December 24, 2000
I live and work in Central America, and therefore often need information on a wide variety of topics regarding the local ecology. This book has served me very well as a resource which gives concise but engaging explanations of lots of the aspects of the ecosystems here. Perhaps the most important flaw is the lack of information on freshwater aquatic ecosystems. Similarly to other publications, this book leaves one with the impression that there is not much interesting about freshwater except in the Amazon drainage.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Kricher's NEOTROPICAL COMPANION is not the kind of 'field-guide-for-dummies' that many of us depend on to find our way around Central and South America's flora and fauna. Rather, it's the next step for people who've become familiar with that kind of guide and want to understand at a deeper and occasionally more abstract level why the natural life around them is what it is.

Ours accompanied us through many years in Costa Rica.

The photos are stunning, but there are not many of them. Fairly dense, instructive prose dominates.

A fine book by a recognized authority. Buy the field guide and get it well-thumbed and into your mind. Then add Kricher's NEOTROPICAL COMPANION to it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Students and Traveler's Alike! July 18, 2001
By A Customer
Kricher's prose is easily read and digested with fascinating details of the workings in a tropical forest. A delightful read for both the student wishing to understand tropical ecology and the traveler who wishes to get a better feel for the environment in South America. Highly recommened.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of the tropics November 9, 2006
I took this book along with me to Peru and read it during long boat rides on the river. If you have an interest in biology and ecosystems, this book is a great introduction. It covers a little bit of everything, from birds to mammals to plants. You can dip into one topic without having to read it linearly.

The book greatly enhanced my trip. Guides are great but they can't be experts in everything at once.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great general guide March 25, 2008
This book provides a good overview of several ecosystem types within the neotropics, including information on plants, insects, birds, mammals, and inter-species interactions. It's written in an academic but accessible style. My only criticism is the presence of numerous typographical and measurement-conversion errors in the book. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book - I brought it with me to Peru, and read it from cover to cover.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making you wish to go there April 7, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've had to choose between 3 and 4 stars, but I'll stick to 4 stars.
It's really a good introduction to the natural history of the Neotropics. Yet, I've got the feeling that Mr. Kricher wants to tell us about too many things in too few space, thus leaving much things for further explanation. Of course, it's a heavy task to pack such a diversity in so small a book. The general introduction is thorough, but in the group description some groups remain heavily underexposed.
He shouldn't be playing on words this much only to let every pun be followed by a hypocritical "no pun intendeed". There's nothing against making puns, though.
The colour pictures do not add much to the book. I think he'd better have fewer and larger pictures than this stamp collection that give a somewhat disorderly impression.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading it, making me wish to return to the neotropical rainforests.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The various aspects of the tropics
A book for someone who wants to be amazed by the world around them when in the tropical climes. This 2nd edition encompasses comprehensive descriptions of life from the cellular... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Birder1997
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book
This book is great either before or after you are going to a tropical rainforest. It helps explain what you are seeing or have seen.
Published 12 months ago by CRT
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
This is a good read for a basic overview of Tropical Ecology. I would recommend this book to biology undergraduates or AP high school students looking to go into a biology field.
Published 13 months ago by Carrie
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Informational!
I traveled to Ecuador this past summer for an Ecology class. I read this book prior to my departure and it gave me a great idea on what to expect. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Suzilla
5.0 out of 5 stars Neotropical Companion
Excelent book. Excelent writing, extremely interesting for researches,students,botanicals,and travellers. It's a book with lots of good information and easy reading.
Published 21 months ago by Beatrix
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Excellent book, great preparation for travel and studies in the Tropical rainforests of South America. Well written and easy to read.
Published 21 months ago by Zachary A. Fitzner
3.0 out of 5 stars Packed with info
Personally I did not really like this book. My take on it was that it was a personal account/textbook/data and results section all mixed into one. Read more
Published on January 21, 2012 by Student
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Tropical Ecology Book
This is a must have for any novice tropical ecologist. A great book that covers a wide range of topics and gives plenty of detail. Read more
Published on October 3, 2011 by BioGeek27
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about the neotropics
This product is a great source of information for anyone who is planning to travel south of the US boarder into Central or South America. Read more
Published on November 19, 2010 by Drew
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Start to Rainforest Ecology
This book is fairly easy to read and understand and is packed with great information. If you are looking for a book that covers everything about the new world rainforests this is... Read more
Published on June 12, 2010 by Alisa Capetillo
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