By: Steven M. Goodman and Jonathan P. Benstead

"Steven Goodman (a Field Museum biologist whose name is almost synonymous with natural history in Madagascar) and Jonathan Benstead (a postdoctoral researcher at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole) have tackled the task of compiling what we currently know about the island's environments, ecology, and biota. Working with some 300 contributors, 70 of whom are Malagasy researchers, they have produced a hefty volume comprising 14 chapters, with over 250 individually written sections and thousands of references, and running nearly 1800 pages. … This compilation of data will be invaluable to both specialists in particular taxa and those with general interests in Madagascar. But more than anything, the volume highlights the importance of species as a focus for conservation. … The country's new president, Marc Ravalomanana, has made a personal commitment to conserving Madagascar's unique (a word not used lightly) biological diversity. By dint of all its numbers, The Natural History of Madagascar makes the case for what we need to save."

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