Western Indian Ocean Tortoises: Ecology, Diversity, Evolution, Conservation, Palaeontology
by Justin Gerlach (editor)
Siri Scientific Press (2014) 978-0-9929979-0-8 RRP £39.99
352 pp, 240 x 165 mm, soft cover, 200+ illustrations, mainly colour photographs
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Copeia 104(4): 965-976 (2016): "... a masterful account of the extinct and extant tortoises of these islands. It deserves a place in any herpetologists' or natural historian's library and we highly recommend it. The extensive references alone are worth the price of the book, as they compile a wealth of scattered, difficult-to-access literature. Eminent turtle and primate conservationist Russ Mittermeier wrote a short but eloquent preface, followed by 11 chapters authored by many of the recognized experts in WIO tortoise conservation and biology. ...this is a remarkable book that will be an extremely valuable source of information concerning the extinct and living tortoises of the WIO islands. Bringing all of this information, and the references it drew from, together under one cover is a great contribution. There is vital conservation work to be done if the extant species are to be saved, but this book will make it easier for biologists and conservationists to move forward. The haunting and evocative photo of the Reunion Tortoise skull and mandible on the front cover is a perfect symbol for the book's epic, dramatic, and tragic content."
The islands of the Western Indian Ocean (Madagascar and the small island groups of the Seychelles, Mascarenes and Comoros) are home to a remarkable diversity of animals and plants. Among the most notable are the tortoises, including some of the world’s largest, smallest and rarest species. Historically, at least ten species were present in the islands but today only five survive. This book reviews all of the information on the species, drawing together the historical records (many previously unpublished) including how humans decimated the tortoise populations as a source of food for long sea voyages, along with the latest information on palaeontology, evolution and ecology, including from a molecular genetics perspective. The conservation status of each species is described, as are the current efforts to restore tortoises to their central position in the ecology of these islands. The volume includes contributions from twelve expert authors from the UK, France, USA, Canada and Madagascar
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