The Natural History of Madagascar University of Chicago Press $50


Madagascar's biodiversity is unique and imperilled. Separated from the mainland of Africa for 160 million years, the island is home to thousands of species found nowhere else, as detailed in The Natural History of Madagascar, a paperback edition of which was published in March (University of Chicago Press, $50). This hefty desk reference features expert contributions covering the history of scientific exploration in Madagascar, its geology, climate, ecology and conservation, as well as its plants, invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The book also includes over four hundred illustrations and photos — including this one of a lowland streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus), found in the forest of Andrambovato in the south east of the island. These small, insect-eating mammals live together in burrows and make subsonic calls by rustling their spines; like many Malagasy species they are losing habitat to deforestation.

Credit: H. SCHÜTZ