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.
[An] uncommonly well-written book…This scholarly and lucid book summarizes nearly all that is known concerning the history, geology, and natural history of Krakatau, both before and after the cataclysmic eruption of August 1883…Thornton, who has focused his professional attention on Krakatau for the last twenty years, is both entertaining and informative in synthesizing these events and explaining their biological significance in the context of ongoing conceptual debates in ecology and biogeography.
Thornton offers us a fascinating, dynamic picture of island colonization and the step-by-step assembly of a tropical ecosystem.
[This book is] sure to become a classic for biogeographers, as well as being a testimonial to the resilience of life.
[A] fascinating book…I could not put it down. This extraordinary text is most certainly not just another volcano book. Ian Thornton’s knowledge of his subject is daunting. He describes the events leading up to the awesome eruption in 1883 that left more than 36,000 people dead, destroyed over 160 towns and villages, and wiped out a whole island. He has gone back to original ships’ logs and scientific papers and has translated them himself to present a highly readable, informative and gripping story…Informative as it is, the book has all the intrigue and suspense of a good ‘whodunit’…[A] thoroughly good read.
It is because of the detailed picture of succession, disturbance, habitat relations and of all manner of ecological interactions that Krakatau provides its unique contributions to island theory. It demonstrates the sorts of ecological parameters that island models must accommodate in order to be applicable to ‘proper’ islands. This book is thus an important contribution to the literature on Krakatau—and it ably communicates the author’s great enthusiasm for this enigmatic, notorious group of islands—but it also constitutes a study of general ecological value, I hope that it is widely read.
- 346 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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