London: Academic Press, 1999. Quarto, 69 colour plates, maps, fine copy in dustwrapper.
This volume covers the avifauna of the Republic of Singapore, peninsular Malaysia, southern Thailand and the tip of Tenasserim (Burma), with their associated island archipelagos to latitude 11°N. This classic region of high biodiversity is home to a rich and special resident avifauna that is joined in season by a host of migrants from north Asia to create a fascinating faunal mix. Most of its bird species, and nearly all of those endemic to the region, reside in tropical forest habitats. Until surprisingly recently, these forests clothed most of the area. Now, one of the tropical world's fastest rates of agricultural conversion has swept them from all but a fraction of their former range, opening space to newcomers with quite different ecological requirements - a truly dramatic conservation problem under constant watch by ornithologists in all places accessible to field workers.
Twenty-two years after the last synoptic publication on the region, this volume, and its companion on passerine species (currently in preparation), bring together the most complete modern summary of field survey work and other research on all the birds found in the Peninsula.
During 30 years of residence in the region, David Wells has acquired an unrivalled understanding of its birds, which he brings in full measure to this superb first volume. Over 380 species are described in contemporary handbook format. Historically complete accounts draw on a full range of recent field and museum research, together with much previously unpublished and little-circulated data from local compilers and the diaries and personal records of many enthusiasts. Each species account comprises 16 standard sections dealing with topics such as systematics, distribution, plumage, biometrics, status, habitat, food and foraging, voice, behaviour, breeding biology, moult and conservation - all fully referenced to a bibliography of over 800 sources.
General introductory material will be divided between the two volumes. Here are included an explanatory guide to the species treatments, a full account of the biogeographical, including palaeo-environmental, background of the avifauna, and of its relevance to current conservation issues, plus a gazetteer of all sites mentioned in the text, keyed to essential maps. Volume 2 will cover ecological analyses, including of migration, built on data from the full set of species accounts, and feature a short history of ornithology in the area.
Sixty-nine full-page colour plates show almost all the species covered and provide a unique collection of portraits by a team of internationally respected artists.
Price: $200.00 AU