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Evolution of Island Mammals: Adaptation and Extinction of Placental Mammals on Islands

ISBN: 978-1-4443-9128-2
496 pages
February 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Evolution of Island Mammals: Adaptation and Extinction of Placental Mammals on Islands (1444391283) cover image
Evolution on islands differs in a number of important ways from evolution on mainland areas.  Over millions of years of isolation, exceptional and sometimes bizarre mammals evolved on islands, such as pig-sized elephants and hippos, giant rats and gorilla-sized lemurs that would have been formidable to their mainland ancestors.

This timely and innovative book is the first to offer a much-needed synthesis of recent advances in the exciting field of the evolution and extinction of fossil insular placental mammals. It provides a comprehensive overview of current knowledge on fossil island mammals worldwide, ranging from the Oligocene to the onset of the Holocene.

The book addresses evolutionary processes and key aspects of insular mammal biology, exemplified by a variety of fossil species. The authors discuss the human factor in past extinction events and loss of insular biodiversity.

This accessible and richly illustrated textbook is written for graduate level students and professional researchers in evolutionary biology, palaeontology, biogeography, zoology, and ecology.

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Preface.

Part I Beyond the Mainland.

1 Introduction.

2 History of Island Studies.

3 Factors that Influence Island Faunas.

Types of Islands.

Dispersals to Islands.

The Candidate Species.

Composition of Island Faunas.

Part II The Islands and Their Faunas.

4 Cyprus.

Geology and Palaeogeography

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

5 Crete.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

6 Gargano.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

7 Sicily.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

8 Malta.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

9 Sardinia and Corsica.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

10 The Balearic Islands.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

11 Madagascar.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

12 Java.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

13 Flores.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

14 Sulawesi.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

15 The Philippines.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

16 Japan.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

17 The Southern and Central Ryukyu Islands.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

18 The Californian Channel Islands.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

19 The West Indies.

Geology and Palaeogeography.

Historical Palaeontology.

Biozones and Faunal Units.

Part III Species and Processes.

20 Elephants, Mammoths, Stegodons and Mastodons.

Distribution and Range.

Dispersals.

Taxonomic Confusions.

Common Morphological Traits.

Other Common Trends.

21 Rabbits, Hares and Pikas.

Distribution and Range.

Common Morphological Traits.

Other Common Trends.

Dispersal of Lagomorphs.

22 Rats, Dormice, Hamsters, Caviomorphs and other Rodents.

Distribution and Range.

Common Morphological Traits.

Remark on Taphonomy.

23 Insectivores and Bats.

Distribution and Range.

Common Morphological Traits.

24 Cervids and Bovids.

Distribution and Range.

Common Morphological Traits.

Taxonomic Confusions.

25 Hippopotamuses and Pigs.

Distribution and Range.

Common Morphological Traits.

Taxonomic Confusions.

26 Carnivores.

Distribution and Range.

Common Morphological Traits.

Taxonomic Confusions.

27 Patterns and Trends.

Dwarfism and Gigantism.

Increased Size Variation.

Shorter Limbs and Stiff Joints.

Increased Grinding Force.

Neurological Changes.

Changes in Metabolism.

28 Evolutionary Processes in Island Environments.

Types of Speciation on Islands.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors.

29 Extinction of Insular Endemics.

Natural Disasters.

Disappearance of the Island.

Competition by New Species.

Effects of Exotic Predators.

Transmission of Diseases.

Habitat Loss.

Hunting to Extinction.

References.

Index.

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Alexandra van der Geer is an independent researcher, presently guest researcher at Naturalis, the National Museum of Natural History of the Netherlands and at the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment at the University of Athens, Greece. She publishes on various subjects, including insularity, primatology and the relation between humans and animals. Among her previous books are Animals in Stone and Hoe dieren op eilanden evolueren.

George Lyras is curator of the Museum of Geology and Palaeontology of the University of Athens, Greece. His research focuses primarily on the evolution of carnivores and of insular mammals. He currently specialises in evolutionary processes of the mammalian skull under strong selective forces.

John de Vos is curator of the Dubois Collection and the Collection of Pleistocene mammal fossils from the Netherlands and the North Sea at Naturalis, the National Museum of Natural History of the Netherlands. His expertise and field of research include the taxonomic, systematic, geographic and stratigraphic research of the Pleistocene mammals of Southeast Asia in relation to fossil humans and fossil island faunas.

Michael Dermitzakis is emeritus professor in the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment at the University of Athens, Greece, and former vice-rector of the same university. He is a recognized expert in the field of island biogeography of the Aegean Archipelago and the advocate of international research on the palaeo-ecology of Greek islands.

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“This book is an important addition to the library of any Quaternary mammalian palaeontologist and will likely be useful to those whose interests extend back deeper into the Cenozoic. The book is well illustrated and very well researched, with an excellent set of references. I suspect that it will become the starting point for many future researchers and research projects.” (Geological Journal, 1 March 2013)

“I laud the authors on undertaking a work of this magnitude, and commend it to anyone interested in the remarkable beasts that once populated the little places on Earth.”  (J Mammal Evol, 1 February 2011)

“With many examples and more than 50 pages of up-to-date bibliography, this book is particularly interesting for students and professional researchers in evolution.”  (Mammalia, 28 June 2012)

“It is generously illustrated and nicely presented. Island biota will continue to provide a fascinating arena for the study of evolution, and this book highlights the value of taking a broader view than the brief snapshot in time provided by contemporary insular biota alone.”  (BioScience, 1 April 2012)

"Van der Geer et al. Have done a thorough job of providing an up-to-date overview of what is now known about the diversity, adaptations, biogeographical histories, and ultimate extinction of these quite remarkable creatures: elephants the size of large dogs, lemurs that hung from branches like sloths, rodents the size of ponies, and many other examples of adaptation in action." (The Quarterly Review of Biology, 1 June 2011)

"Figure quality, including 26 color plates, is excellent. Comprehensive index and reference list included. Highly Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals in paleontology and zoology." (Choice, 1 March 2011)

"That aside, there's a lot of material in here that's fascinating to the non-specialist". (Fortean Times, 1 March 2011)

"This superb book looks at the evolution, and extinction, of placentals ranging from the Oligocene to the present . . . a well published textbook, superbly illustrated with drawings and photographs, that it would be fun to read through a little before sticking it on my shelf as a reference book for the future." (Troglodyte4, 2010)

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