The Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the Forest

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9780226437125: The Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the Forest

Hornbills are among the world’s most distinct birds. Easily recognized by their oversized beaks adorned with large casques, they range from Africa to India and throughout Asia. One of the oldest bird orders, they have been known to mankind for millennia and loom large in the mythology of indigenous cultures of tropical Asia. In the past thirty years, ecologists have uncovered many fascinating aspects of hornbill biology, from their unique nest-sealing behavior to their roles as farmers of the forest.

Building on fourteen years of research, Margaret F. Kinnaird and Timothy G. O’Brien offer in Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills the most up-to-date information on the evolution, reproduction, feeding ecology, and movement patterns of thirty-one species of Asian hornbills. The authors address questions of ecological functionality, ecosystem services, and keystone relationships, as well as the disturbing influence of forest loss and fragmentation on hornbills. Complemented by superb full-color images by renowned photographer Tim Laman that provide rare glimpses of hornbills in their native habitat and black-and-white illustrations by Jonathan Kingdon that highlight the intriguing aspects of hornbill behavior, Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills will stand tall in the pantheon of natural history studies for years to come.

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About the Author:

Margaret F. Kinnaird is senior conservation ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and Director of Mpala Research Centre, Kenya. Timothy G. O’Brien is senior conservation zoologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Review:

“Margaret F. Kinnaird and Timothy O’Brien are premier tropical forest researchers, and their fieldwork on the hornbills has been a capstone to their careers to date. The Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills will stand among the pantheon of natural history studies. It is a work that compares favorably with the best of Schaller or Terborgh.”

(Bruce Beehler, Conservation International)

“With their enormous decurved and brightly colored bills topped with ornamented casques, hornbills hold a special attraction for all of us—one of the few kinds of bird that everyone knows, revered by tribal peoples, sought after by birdwatchers, gasped at by visitors to zoos, used by several Asian states as symbols. Yet their vital ecological function, as seed-dispersers particularly of fig-trees (which are themselves crucial components of tropical forests), is barely appreciated and poorly understood. Here two long-standing experts on the Asian hornbills crystallize their experiences and knowledge into a gem of a book which examines the roles of hornbills in the health of the tropical forest environment and which pleads with passion and clarity for the conservation of both the birds and their habitat.”

(Nigel Collar, Leventis Fellow in Conservation Biology, BirdLife International)

“Margaret Kinnaird and Timothy O’Brien deftly combine evolutionary biology, ecology, and conservation biology in this engaging and insightful study of Asia’s charismatic hornbills. Through the hornbills, we come to appreciate the diversity, complexity, and beauty of Asia's tropical forests, and not a moment too soon, given how quickly those forests are being destroyed.”

(David S. Wilcove, Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Public Affairs, Princeton University)

“If you are fortunate enough to have heard the raucous calls and whooshing sound of hornbills’ wings above the canopy of Asian forests and to have watched them shaking the branches of fruiting fig trees as they hop from bough to bough, then this book will enable you to understand the remarkable and significant lives between those brief glimpses. If you are not so fortunate, this book will certainly give you all the encouragement you could possibly need to hear and see these wonderful creatures for yourself.  I am in awe of the efforts that Kinnaird, O’Brien, and others have expended to follow and habituate various species of hornbills in order to tease apart their motives and drives, and am so pleased that all this information is now available to us in such a readable form.”

(Tony Whitten, Senior Biodiversity Specialist, East Asia and Pacific, The World Bank)

"Kinnaird and O'Brien have set the competition bar high. Their achievements demand respect, and this is a book to own." (D.R. Wells British Ornithologists' Union)

"[The authors] offer the most up-to-date information on the evolution, reproduction, feeding ecology, and movement patterns of 31 species of Asian hornbills. . . . Complemented by superb full-color images by renowned photographer Tim Laman that provide rare glimpses of hornbills in their native habitat and black-and-white illustrations . . . that highlight the intriguing aspects of hornbill behavior, this book will stand tall in the pantheon of natural history studies for years to come." (Wildlife Conservation)

"Clearly this book is essential reading for hornbill specialists. But will anyone else be interested?  Anyone interested in the vital, fast-moving field of conservation ecology will find this a readable and fascinating primer." (R. W. Ashford Times Literary Supplement 2009-03-06)

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