Island Life

Alfred Russel WALLACE

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Item#: 60981 price:$1,600.00


WALLACE, Alfred Russel. Island Life: or, The Phenomena and Causes of Insular Faunas and Floras, Including a Revision and Attempted Solution of the Problem of Geological Climates. London: Macmillan, 1880. Octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth, top edge gilt. $1600.

First edition of this important work on zoogeography and the ice ages, with hand-colored frontispiece map, eight full-page maps, and 17 in-text maps and diagrams.

Wallace’s “Island Life is one of the foundation works of zoogeography… [It] focused on the detailed problems of animal dispersal and speciation. Like Darwin, Wallace classified islands as either oceanic (no previous connection to a land mass) or continental (previously connected to a land mass). He considered the means by which each class of island might become colonized, the types of animals most likely to perform the necessary migrations, and the conditions— such as major climactic or geologic change— under which the migrations might have been made. Wallace was the first to use the new knowledge of Pleistocene ice ages to explain certain phenomena of animal distribution, and in Island Life he speculated about the possible causes of glaciation. He was one of the few 19th-century scientists to realize that astronomical causes alone would not suffice, but had to be combined with a corresponding elevation in the northern land mass” (Norman 2179). “His discussion of the relevance of ice ages was extremely important, as was his reemphasis on the interaction and ‘complete interdependence of organic and inorganic nature” (DSB). “Wallace’s most solid work was… that on geographical distribution… His zoogeographical work was fundamental for all subsequent investigations in this field” (DNB). Norman 2179. Owner signature on title page.

Interior fine, light wear to spine ends. About-fine condition.

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