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The Destruction and Reassembly of an Island Ecosystem

Ian Thornton

ISBN 9780674505728

Publication date: 09/01/1997

After the eruption, Krakatau provided a unique opportunity to study the colonization of a sterile area by plants and animals across a sea barrier and the gradual incorporation of the newcomers into the developing ecosystem. Krakatau is a comprehensive account of the reassembly of a tropical forest ecosystem over the past century. Ian Thornton tackles the many questions and controversies surrounding the eruption and its aftermath. He writes, “The natural healing process has followed the most extreme form of ecological destruction possible, total biological extirpation. Yet the islands surviving the 1883 eruption are covered in secondary forest, and over 200 species of plants, 70 species of vertebrates, and thousands of invertebrate species now inhabit these forests.”

Krakatau will be essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand not just the rebirth of Krakatau but also the resilient nature of life everywhere.


  • Exciting, information-rich…Thornton, an accomplished biologist, presents a detailed history [of Krakatau] replete with fascinating details…[This book will] provide hours of truly pleasurable reading and also clear and deep insights into the fascinating biology of islands, the struggles to construct comprehensive theories for difficult processes and the techniques for preserving species diversity.

    —Lawrence B. Slobodkin, Nature


  • Ian Thornton was Emeritus Professor of Zoology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia.

Book Details

  • 346 pages
  • 0-13/16 x 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press