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The abundant insect life of the rainforests of northeastern Costa Rica is the subject of this engaging book, first published over twenty-five years ago and now including two new chapters on the rise of ecotourism in the region.
In this book I have tried to bring together the major developments in the study of insect populations in tropical environments. In some ways, this task has been a difficult one because conceptually it is virtually impossible to limit a discussion of insect ecology to the tropics, since the same concepts, theories, and hypoth eses concerning the mechanisms by which habitats support insect populations often apply both to temperate and to tropical regions. Thus one might argue effectively that a book such as Peter Price's Insect Ecology represents a more comprehensive treatment of insect ecology, including the tropical aspects. Yet because there has been a tremendous amount of new study on insects in the tropics in recent years, and because there has also been a strong historical interest in tropical insects, judging from early museum expeditions and medically and agriculturally oriented studies of insects in the New and Old World tropics, I believe there is a place for a book dealing almost exclusively with tropical insects. But logically so, such a book by necessity incorporates data and informa tion from Temperate Zone studies, if for no other reason than because insights into the properties of tropical environments often emerge from compariso'ns of species, communities, or faunas between temperate and tropical regions. An understanding of insect populations in the tropics cannot be divorced from a consideration of Temperate Zone populations.
Young provides an overview of the fascinating natural and human history of one of the world's most intriguing commodities: chocolate. Cultivated for over 1,000 years in Latin America, cacao beans have been used for beverages, as currency, and for regional trade. After the Spanish brought the delectable secret of the cacao tree back to Europe in the late 16th century, its seeds created and fed an insatiable worldwide appetite for chocolate. The Chocolate Tree chronicles the natural and cultural history of Theobroma cacao and explores its ecological niche. Tracing cacao's journey out of the rain forest, into pre-Columbian gardens, and then onto plantations adjacent to rain forests, Young describes the production of this essential crop, the environmental price of Europeanized cultivation, and ways that current reclamation efforts for New World rain forests can improve the natural ecology of the cacao tree. Young also presents a history of the use of cacao, from the archaeological evidence of Meso-america to contemporary evidence of the relationship between chocolate consumption and mental and physical health. A rich concoction of cultural and natural history, archaeological evidence, botanical research, and environmental activism, The Chocolate Tree offers an appreciation of the plant and the environment that provide us with this Mayan food of the gods.