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Trees and Forests of Tropical Asia

Exploring Tapovan

Informed by decades of researching tropical Asian forests, a comprehensive, up-to-date, and beautifully illustrated synthesis of the natural history of this unique place.
Trees and Forests of Tropical Asia invites readers on an expedition into the leafy, humid, forested landscapes of tropical Asia—the so-called tapovan, a Sanskrit word for the forest where knowledge is attained through tapasya, or inner struggle. Peter Ashton and David Lee, two of the world’s leading scholars on Asian tropical rain forests, reveal the geology and climate that have produced these unique forests, the diversity of species that inhabit them, the means by which rain forest tree species evolve to achieve unique ecological space, and the role of humans in modifying the landscapes over centuries. Following Peter Ashton’s extensive On the Forests of Tropical Asia, the first book to describe the forests of the entire tropical Asian region from India east to New Guinea, this new book provides a more condensed and updated overview of tropical Asian forests written accessibly for students as well as tropical forest biologists, ecologists, and conservation biologists.

448 pages | 145 color plates, 15 halftones, 19 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Biological Sciences: Botany, Conservation, Ecology, Paleobiology, Geology, and Paleontology, Tropical Biology and Conservation


“This profoundly inspirational book, a personal—almost autobiographical—deep-dive into the ecology, evolution, biogeography, and conservation of the forests of tropical Asia, is a lyrically written, instant classic, a page-turner natural history saga in the mold of a modern-day Alfred Russel Wallace.”

Stephen P. Hubbell

“A fascinating, unique contribution to a scarce literature, and a book that perhaps could only have been written by these two authors. Ashton and Lee’s stories will inspire others to build a knowledgebase that the rich biodiversity of tropical Asian forests warrants, and that society seeks.”

Kamal Bawa, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and ATREE, Bengaluru

“A major scientific treatise that will be an essential reference for those who study tropical forests.”

Plant Science Bulletin, on "On the Forests of Tropical Asia"

“A monumental work. . . . For any tropical biologist on any continent, the book will provide an invaluable reference, a fascinating history, and a wellspring for novel ideas.”

Biotropica, on "On the Forests of Tropical Asia"

“A masterpiece of scientific scholarship in an area that is of tremendous importance for the biosphere.”

Biologist, on "On the Forests of Tropical Asia"

Table of Contents

1 The Asian Tropics
2 Forests in the Landscape
3 Geology
4 Climates
5 Soils
6 Plants of the Asian Tropics
7 Lowland Everwet Forests: Structure and Dynamics
8 Forests of the Seasonal Tropics
9 Tree Species Composition in Tropical Lowland Forests
10 Abode of the Clouds
11 Trees and Their Mobile Links: Pollination
12 Trees and Their Mobile Links: Dispersal and Survival
13 Phylogeography
14 Forest and Tree Diversity: Why Does It Vary, and How Is It Maintained?
15 People in the Forest
16 Forest History: The European Influence
17 Forest History: Independence
18 Future Forests
    Appendix A—Geological Time Line
    Appendix B—ForestGEO
    Appendix C—An Ecotourism Guide to Tropical Asian Forests
Illustration Credits and Abbreviations

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