|About the Book|
Clive Finlayson writes in the preface to this book of his admiration for R.E. MoreausThe Palaearctic African Bird Migration Systems, praising it as a fine example of how to write science in a clear, concise, engaging way. It influenced his career, this book and he hopes to live up to those standards. I havent read it but I have read this book and Im afraid its not something Ill be recommending to anyone but the interested specialist.Avian Survivors: Climate Change and the History of the Birds of the Western Palearcticis a thesis. The author doesnt, Im afraid, win any honours from me for literary style but he does write persuasively by amassing an inordinate amount of data to build his argument - there is not a single modern Palaearctic bird which he does not cover.The main thrust of Finlaysons theory is that it is to the aridity of the Miocene-Pliocene transition that we owe todays Palaearctic Avi-Fauna and not to the Pleistocene Ice Ages. That period selected for birds which were either bio-climatically tolerant and omnivorous (or at least diversely carnivorous) or else migratory. To a large extent those birds are still here - its also why the European-evolved parrots are not. Conversely, the Pleistocene glaciations did give us the Australian-evolved passerines to take the parrots places in the forests. These birds are generalists and the successive glaciations pushed cooler environments down latitudinally and altitudinally - allowing them to meet at the Himalayas, where the passerines had adapted after entering the Old World through South East Asia - allowing them to spread through the rest of Eurasia.Its a convincing and revelatory proposition which has implications for areas of research well beyond ornithology.