When you look out your window, why are you so much more likely to see a robin or a sparrow than a Kirtland's warbler or a California condor? Why are some animals naturally rare and others so abundant? The quest to find and study seldom-seen jaguars and flamboyant Andean cocks-of-the-rock is as alluring to naturalists as it is vitally important to science. From the Himalayan slopes of Bhutan to the most isolated mountain ranges of New Guinea, The Kingdom of Rarities takes us to some of the least-traveled places on the planet to catch a glimpse of these unique animals and many others. As he shares stories of these species, Eric Dinerstein gives readers a deep appreciation of their ecological importance and the urgency of protecting all types of life — the uncommon and abundant alike.
An eye-opening tour of the rare and exotic, The Kingdom of Rarities offers us a new understanding of the natural world, one that places rarity at the center of conservation biology. Looking at real-time threats to biodiversity, from climate change to habitat fragmentation, and drawing on his long and distinguished scientific career, Dinerstein offers readers fresh insights into fascinating questions about the science of rarity and unforgettable experiences from the field.
"The presence of large, potentially dangerous mammals connects us to something deep and primal and teaches us humility in a way that is unique and precious. We must not lose it." Dinerstein (Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations), Chief Scientist with the World Wildlife Fund, provides nature lovers with an armchair tour of the world, focusing on rare species from New Guinea to Hawaii. In clear, concise prose he discusses the circumstances responsible for rarity like evolution, habitat loss, and war. Such species possess an undeniable allure and he asks "how can we make them worth more alive than dead?" Dinerstein has visited many remote locations, from Bhutan to the Amazon, to study wildlife, and shares many personal observations of these places. By some estimates, 75% of life on Earth is comprised of rare species, and Dinerstein's study will give readers a new appreciation for the vast diversity of the planet. "Perhaps ahead of us is a prominent marker in our own development: the point when we truly value nature's diversity, a metric noted by conserving rare wildlife." Line drawings accompany the text, though color photos would be more fitting, but otherwise Dinerstein's study is highly recommended for readers with interests in biology, natural history, and ecology.