Neotropical Savannas and Dry Forests: Plant Diversity, Biogeography, and Conservation

Edited by R. Toby Pennington, Gwilym P. Lewis & James A. Ratter 
CRC Press  May 2006  

Hardback  504  ISBN 9780849329876      £80.00
  • Presents the first overall synthesis of patterns of plant biodiversity in the species rich savannas and seasonally dry forests of the Neotropics
  • Provides definitions of seasonally dry forests and savannas and maps of their distribution
  • Emphasizes conservation issues, such as the identification of areas of significant species diversity or endemism
  • Takes an interdisciplinary approach that ranges from a discussion of new inventories of species in poorly known areas to the detailing of the modern techniques of molecular biogeographic analysis

More often than not, when people think of a neotropical forest, what comes to mind is a rain forest, rather than a dry forest. Just as typically, when they imagine a savanna, they visualize the African plains, rather than those dry woodlands and grasslands found in the Neotropics. These same preconceptions can be found among scientists, as these neotropical biomes receive nowhere near the attention they should - in terms of both research and conservation -considering the amount of land they encompass and the rich diversity of vegetation they contain.

Neotropical Savannas and Dry Forests: Plant Diversity, Biogeography, and Conservation provides an engaging synthesis of our understanding of and recently discovered information on the plant diversity and geography, as well as the conservation status, of these species-rich areas. This impressive compilation is the result of a plant diversity symposium that took place during an international conference on tropical savannas and seasonally dry forests held in Edinburgh in 2003. Fifty leading scientists, representing a variety of disciplines and nations, have contributed to the chapters of this book in an effort to address three questions:

  • What are the patterns of diversity, species-richness and endemism of the floras of neotropical seasonally dry forest and savannas?
  • How and why did this endemism and diversity arise?
  • Are these ecosystems adequately protected and, if not, which areas should be elevated into priorities for conservation, and how can this be best achieved?

This work, the newest addition to the prestigious Systematics Association Special Volumes Series is the first extensive compilation of the patterns of plant biodiversity in these neotropical ecosystems. The overview also provides a summary of what is known of their evolutionary history, including an examination of the links to the development of analogous vegetation in Africa. In contrast to previously published titles that emphasize the ecology and physiology of the vegetation, this work focuses on plant biodiversity and reviews molecular phylogenetic and molecular population genetic approaches to discovering biogeographic history


  • An Overview of the Plant Diversity, Biogeography and Conservation of Neotropical Savannas and Seasonally Dry Forests; R. Toby Pennington, Gwilym P. Lewis and James A. Ratter
  • Biodiversity Patterns of the Woody Vegetation of the Brazilian Cerrados; James A. Ratter, Samuel Bridgewater and J. Felipe Ribeiro
  • Observations on the Southern Cerrados and their Relationship with the Core Area; Giselda Durigan
  • Phytogeography of Cerrado Sensu Stricto and Land System Zoning in Central Brazil; Jeanine Maria Felfili, Maria Cristina Felfili, Christopher William Fagg, Alba Valéria Rezende, Paulo Ernane Nogueira, and Manoel Cláudio da Silva Júnior
  • Flora and Vegetation of the Venezuelan Llanos: A Review; Otto Huber, Rodrigo Duno de Stefano, Gerardo Aymard and Ricarda Riina
  • The Brazilian Caatinga: Phytogeographical Patterns Inferred from Distribution Data of the Leguminosae; Luciano Paganucci de Queiroz
  • Floristic Relationships of Seasonally Dry Forests of Eastern South America Based on Tree Species Distribution Patterns; Ary T. Oliveira-Filho, Joao André Jarenkow, Maria Jesus Nogueira Rodal
  • Biogeography of the Forests of the Paraguay-Paraná Basin; Rodolphe Spichiger, Bastian Bise, Clément Calenge, and Cyrille Chatelain
  • The Chiquitano Dry Forest, the Transition Between Humid and Dry Forest in Eastern Lowland Bolivia; Timothy J. Killeen, Ezequial Chavez, Marielos Peña-Claros, Marisol Toledo, Luzmila Arroy, Judith Caballero, Lisete Correa, René Guillén, Roberto Quevedo, Mario Saldias, Liliana Soria, Ynés Uslar, Israel Vargas and Marc Steininger
  • Inter-Andean Dry Valleys of Bolivia - Floristic Affinities and Patterns of Endemism: Insights from Acanthaceae, Asclepiadaceae and Labiatae; John R. I. Wood
  • Phytogeography and Floristics of Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests in Peru; Reynaldo Linares-Palomino
  • Seasonally Dry Forests of Southern Ecuador in a Continental Context: Insights from Legumes; Gwilym P. Lewis, Bente B. Klitgaard and Brian D. Schrire
  • Mexican and Central American Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests: Chamela-Cuixmala, Jalisco, as a Focal Point for Comparison; Emily J. Lott and Thomas H. Atkinson
  • What Determines Dry Forest Conservation in Mesoamerica? Opportunism and Pragmatism in Mexican and Nicaraguan Protected Areas; James E. Gordon, Evan Bowen-Jones and Marco Antonio González
  • Botanical and Ecological Basis for the Resilience of Antillean Dry Forests; Ariel E. Lugo, Ernesto Medina, J. Carlos Trejo-Torres, and Eileen Helmer
  • Diversity, Biogeography and Conservation of Woody Plants in Tropical Dry Forest of South Florida; Thomas W. Gillespie
  • The Late Quaternary Biogeographical History of South American Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests: Insights from Palaeo-Ecological Data; Francis E. Mayle
  • Population Genetics and Inference of Ecosystem History: An Example Using Two Neotropical Seasonally Dry Forest Species; Y. Naciri-Graven, S. Caetano, R.T. Pennington and R. Spichiger
  • Floristic and Geographical Stability of Discontinuous Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests Explains Patterns of Plant Phylogeny and Endemism; Matt Lavin
  • The Seasonally Dry Vegetation of Africa: Parallels and Comparisons with the Neotropics; J. Michael Lock

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