Biology, Books for the News

Steve Goodman in the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine

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Just in time for Earth Day, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine ran a fascinating and beautifully illustrated cover story on Steve Goodman, world renowned biologist, conservationist, and editor of our recently published The Natural History of Madagascarthe authoritative guide to one of the planets most diverse ecosystems. With years of field work deep in the Malagasy forests under his belt, as the Tribune article notes, Goodman has become the driving force behind efforts to document the hundreds of species endemic to the island, and to develop long term plans for their conservation; efforts that make him and his work easily appropriate for an Earth Day feature. Laurie Goering wrote in the Tribune:

[Steve Goodman], who works as the Field Museum’s only field biologist, thinks of himself as a Victorian-era naturalist for the modern age. Hefting a machete, he goes where next-to-no-one has gone before, takes a good look around and usually comes back with a collecting tub full of new species. Over the years, he has helped discover nearly 300 and scientifically describe almost 50.
Madagascar, where he has lived and worked for 15 years, is his ideal habitat. The California-sized island off the east coast of Africa has some of the world’s most unusual and least-known flora and fauna, from lemurs that call like humpback whales to bats with suckers on their wings. … [But] not long after arriving in Madagascar, Goodman realized two key things were missing on the island: basic knowledge about its flora and fauna and a long-term plan to protect them. Having led the battle to ease the first problem, he’s now focusing much of his energy on the second.
What little remains of Madagascar’s original landscape is fast vanishing as the island’s ever-growing population—now 17 million—struggles to find space to farm, land on which to graze cattle, and trees to cut for charcoal.

Addressing such problems through the story of the island’s fascinating and controversial ecological history, The Natural History of Madagascar collects essays by the world’s most prominent experts in the field, engaging them in detailed discussions of conservation efforts in Madagascar and providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date synthesis of the island’s vast natural treasures.