The New Neotropical Companion

By John Kricher | Princeton University Press | Paperback | Feb 2017 | Edition: 2 | 432 Pages | Colour Maps & Photos & Black & White Illustrations | ISBN: 9780691115252


The Publisher’s View: The New Neotropical Companion is the completely revised and expanded edition of A Neotropical Companion, which has helped thousands of people to understand the complex ecology and natural history of the most species-rich area on Earth, the American tropics. Featuring stunning colour photos throughout, it is a sweeping and cutting-edge account of tropical ecology that includes not only tropical rain forests but also other ecosystems such as cloud forests, rivers, savannas, and mountains. This is the only guide to the American tropics that is all-inclusive, encompassing the entire region’s ecology and the amazing relationships among species rather than focusing just on species identification.

The New Neotropical Companion is a book unlike any other. Here, you will learn how to recognize distinctive ecological patterns of rain forests and other habitats and to interpret how these remarkable ecosystems function – everything is explained in clear and engaging prose free of jargon. You will also be introduced to the region’s astonishing plant and animal life.

Informative and entertaining, The New Neotropical Companion is a pleasurable escape for armchair naturalists, and visitors to the American tropics will want to refer to this book before, during, and after their trip.

In his preface the author explains his choice to change the title:

[…] And thus it is that I chose to revise A Neotropical Companion and call it The New Neotropical Companion. It is new. It has been written to be much less academic in tone. I have adapted some of the former edition to this new edition and, as well, borrowed liberal from my 2011 text,  Tropical Ecology, converting the academic writing to a more user-friendly and generalized treatment.

For visitors from the temperate zone, the nature of the American tropics is exciting but very confusing. The dazzling diversity of plants and animals can seem overwhelming. In The New Neotropical Companion, John Kricher, a gifted scientist and communicator, brings order out of this chaos. With clear, lively language, he describes the patterns of tropical ecology and natural history in an accessible and engaging way – it’s both tremendously educational and fun to read. Now enhanced with abundant photographs, The New Neotropical Companion is essential reading for anyone intrigued by the wonderful biodiversity south of the border.

– Kenn Kaufman, author of Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America

My original copy of John Kricher’s ‘little green book’ is stained and battered from three decades of tropical travel – which is why I’m delighted that Kricher has produced The New Neotropical Companion, a truly landmark revision of his classic: bigger, better, lushly illustrated, but with the same chatty, accessible tone that makes John the perfect guide to the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Whether you’re going to the tropics for the first time or the twentieth, this superb new edition is utterly indispensable reading.

– Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind

Seeing my beloved Neotropical Companion updated, laced with new studies, and bursting with lavish color photographs is an answered prayer. Kricher is the ebullient professor we all wish we’d had, truly our companion on a quest to understand what makes the tropics so hot, and so cool. In this compulsively readable volume, he has constructed something much like the tropics themselves: astoundingly diverse, mysterious, colorful, and rich with the unexpected.

– Julie Zickefoose, author of Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest

Other Views:John Kricher’s Neotropical Companion is an incredible accretion of facts, figures and anecdotes. Kricher outlines the region’s ecology, pharmacology, evolutionary theory, anthropology, climatology, ornithology and conservation, with lots of personal stories to bring it all to life.

– Simon Garrett, Times Literary Supplement

The book is exactly what it says it is, a companion to take with you on your travels in the New World tropics.

– Journal of Natural History

Well-illustrated and beautifully written […] [A Neotropical Companion] contains a wealth of information, explanations and curious facts about the region’s natural history, and is the kind of overview that Alfred Russel Wallace, Henry Bates and other early scientific explorers of Amazonia would have given fingers from their collecting hand to have possessed.

– Adrian Barnett, New Scientist

Kricher has created a highly readable, comprehensive overview of Neotropical ecosystems, which can serve on many levels: as a traveler’s companion, as an introductory text for students, or as recreational reading material for those interested in tropical ecosystems.

– Choice

The Author: John Kricher is professor of biology at Wheaton College. His many books include Tropical Ecology, The Balance of Nature: Ecology’s Enduring Myth, and Galápagos: A Natural History.

Fatbirder View:The very first birding trip that I organised for myself was to Trinidad and Tobago. I extended a cheap(ish) beach holiday in Tobago to take on a week in Trinidad at the world-renowned Asa Wright Nature Center. As I arrived in Trinidad mid-morning there was plenty of time to bird so bags were dumped and we rushed to the veranda with our optics. Asa Wright has resident guides who were pointing out the hummers at the nectar feeders and the bright honeycreepers and tanagers on the fruit table. Then everyone stopped to listen to the bellbird calling far across the forest… and a guide said, I can see it, its in the large Cecropia on the left about 500 meters away. It was right then that I realised I hadn’t done enough research. I didn’t even know about the Neotropical Companion, but I’m not sure the edition back then would have pictures of the distinct neotropical trees and vines, knowledge of which would have got me on to that bird before it flew (lucky for me I caught up with one later in the week).I confess I haven’t read this book from cover to cover but have dipped in reading a chapter here, admiring a picture there and using the full index to get questions answered that are still nagging me after some years of birding in the Americas (albeit never on mainland South America). The thing is though, that, as the book explains in numerous ways, the Neo-tropics stretch from parts of Mexico south including the Caribbean islands. It would have been of equal value to me when planning trips to Mexico, Panama, Jamaica and Cuba. I know I’ll go on dipping in especially if I get a chance to fly west again. If I do, I really hope there is an App or ebook as it would be a terrific source to have with you, but this is a weighty tome. There is such a wealth of wonderful images and clear information presented in everyday language whilst remaining scientifically well informed. It must have been a monumental effort to bring together but it really was time well spent.

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