The tropical forest of Panama's Barro Colorado Island is a luxuriant community of plants and animals, pulsating with life and offering an astonishing view of nature's myriad processes. What does the forest look like? How do the activities of this forest's plants and animals create a community?
Now, in A Magic Web, photographer Christian Ziegler and ecologist Egbert Leigh invite readers to enter the marvelous world of Barro Colorado Island. This book provides a unique combination of the spectacular photography of a picture-book and clear, authoritative text written by an active scientist who has spent half a lifetime trying to understand tropical forests. The photographs provide views of the forest and its spectacular diversity of inhabitants, and show many of the activities that give the forest its character and lend structure to its community. Drawing on decades of work on Barro Colorado Island, Egbert Leigh explains how the forest works. The photographs and text reveal the many ways its plants and animals compete with but also depend on each other: the contrasts between solitary cats and intricately organized armies of ants; the different ways plants struggle for a place in the sun, and the ways these plants attract, or domesticate, animals to pollinate their flowers. Finally, the authors show why this, and by implication all other, tropical forests matter to the people who live near them and to the world at large, what we can learn from these forests, and how they differ from temperate-zone forests.