Friedrich Ehrendorfer, Institute of Botany, University of Vienna
This authoritative monograph on one of the most remarkable ecosystems of the Neotropics is based on more than 35 years of field work and research by the two authors. It gives not only a survey of the main results of their own multidisciplinary studies, but offers an up-to-date and competent synthesis of the relevant and voluminous literature, often not easily accessible and partly written in Portuguese. The text is well organized and very clearly written, copiously illustrated by many excellent colour photographs and drawings, and supported by numerous schemata and tables.
The two volumes on the cerrado ecosystem by Gerhard Gottsberger and Ilse Silberbauer-Gottsberger are a major contribution to our understanding of the biological problems of South America and a must for all interested in this field. Beyond that these volumes are an important step forward in current efforts to better evaluate the links between species diversity, ecological interdependences and evolutionary aspects in the different biomes of our biosphere.
From review in Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 1 (1), 2007
Verne Grant, Section of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin
Every so often a truly outstanding botanical book or monograph makes an appearance. Life in the Cerrado by Gerhard Gottsberger and Ilse Silberbauer-Gottsberger (late 2006) is such a book. It gives a fascinating account of the seasonally dry woodland vegetation in central Brazil, known as the cerrado, and its pollination systems and modes of plant dispersal. The clear text is complemented by a series of beautiful color illustrations, making the book a pleasure to read.
In letter, March 1, 2007
Johannes Kollmann, Department of Ecology, University of Copenhagen
"Life in the Cerrado" by G. Gottsberger and I. Silberbauer-Gottsberger is an outstanding book which fills a gap in the literature. The first volume describes the basic biogeographical setting of the Cerrado, while the second volume focuses on pollination and seed dispersal. The book is very well structured, it is generously illustrated with numerous photographs, instructive drawings and maps, and it contains considerable (unpublished) data on the Cerrado vegetation. The text is carefully written and easily accessible also for the non-specialist reader. Extensive reference lists and indices make both volumes a good starting point for those who want to find further literature on the subject. I recommend this publication to our students in tropical botany, and I expect that it will be extensively used for essays on the core interest of the authors - pollination biology and dispersal ecology.
In letter, December 5, 2006
Ulrich Lüttge, Institut für Botanik, Technische Universität, Darmstadt
When one opens the two volumes on the Brazilian cerrado first one is immediately overwhelmed by the esthetical pleasure - the sensual impressions - given by the richness of colour photographs most of them master pieces and fine drawings of plants. In the first volume the photographs are more of landscapes and whole plants, in the second volume there is a wealth of excellent close ups of flowers and pollinators. The text then provides ample satisfaction for the depth of thought with maps, schemes and graphics and extensive tabulation of informative facts, quantitative data and functional analyses.
The two authors have worked together in the cerrados for 35 years and for 12 of these years (1969 – 1981) very intensively when they had a square one hectare plot of cerrado at Botucatu, São Paulo, for particularly detailed and continuous studies covered in chapter 23 of volume II. We may imagine how sad it is for them to have lost to a sugar cane plantation this plot of outstanding primary vegetation where they must have known every corner.
Thus, what is laid down in these two volumes is the most respectable achievement of a life’s work or, to be more precise, of two lives’ work, the couple of Ilse and Gerhard Gottsberger. The two volumes deserve a wide audience, because from whatever angle one views them one will find satisfaction, esthetical pleasure, general biological education and insights, precise and solid scientific information on specific questions. In view of the scientific value and the attractive production the price of a little more than 100 Euros for the two books is very reasonable. Both volumes can also be used separately because each of them has its own index and a list of references.
From review in Ecotropica 13 (1), 2007
Rudolf Schmid, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
A truly superb and definitive work on cerrado!
Multitudinous platitudes would be inadequate to do justice to this incredible work, which is so beautifully executed and so thoroughly done that it instantly becomes a landmark work. The two large-format volumes treat "cerrado", a seasonally dry woody vegetation type unique to central Brazil. This bargain-priced grand synthesis stems from a combined 80 years of study by this husband-wife team. Few other vegetation types in the world are so thoroughly treated, and certainly none is so beautifully and multifariously presented. The very detailed contents listing in the heading essentially provides the best review of this definitive work. Further praise would be superfluous.
This great and grand work belongs on the shelf of not only every biology library but also every holistically minded ecologist. It is an impassioned plea for the conservation of cerrado, should also serve as a compelling inspiration for persevering in long-term research and for synthesizing it.
From review in Taxon 56, May 2007
Marcia Motta Maués, Laboratório de Entomologia, Embrapa Amazônia Oriental, Belém, Pará
I bought these books last year and both volumes are marvellous! They are really worthy to everyone working on pollination, specially to those who are lucky to work at the Cerrado and/or Brazilian flora. Extraordinary pictures too!!!
In Pollination and Palynology List (POLPAL), 29 May 2007
Jeff Ollerton, Landscape and Biodiversity Research Group, School of Applied Sciences, University of Northampton, UK
I'd like to second Márcia's comments - it's impossible to praise the books too highly, they are extremely well produced and serve as a great tribute to the region and to the Gottsberger's commitment to studying and conserving a fascinating part of the world.
Worth every Euro!
In Pollination and Palynology List (POLPAL), 29 May 2007
Focko Weberling, Arbeitsgruppe Biosystematik, Universität Ulm
In dem zweibändigen Werk sind in einer umfassenden Studie Ergebnisse integriert, welche die beiden Autoren zusammen mit Schülern und Mitarbeitern über mehr als drei Jahrzehnte hinweg in vielfältigen Untersuchungen gewinnen konnten, die zunächst vorwiegend blütenbiologische Fragen zu beantworten suchten, dann aber mehr und mehr die verschiedenen Lebensbedingungen im Cerrado einbezogen.
Die Darstellungen der einzelnen Sachverhalte werden durch zahlreiche sehr gute Photos und Schemata veranschaulicht, die Beantwortung aktueller Fragestellungen immer wieder durch Tabellen und Diagramme belegt. Die jeweils ca. 700-800 Titel umfassenden Literaturverzeichnisse dokumentieren die Berücksichtigung des derzeitigen Standes der internationalen Forschung. Besonders hervorzuheben ist, daß die Einwirkungen der biotischen und abiotischen Faktoren auf die Lebensprozesse der einzelnen Organismen wie auch der gesamten Assoziation immer wieder unter verschiedenen Aspekten erörtert werden. Damit wird ein für den gegenwärtigen Stand unserer Kenntnisse recht vollständiges Bild vom 'Lebensraum Cerrado' entworfen. Man darf den Autoren und ihren Mitarbeitern zu dieser umfassenden, integrativen Studie gratulieren.
From review in Flora 203, 2008
Weanée Kimblewood, UK
"Vulnerable Hotspots" (Brazil's unknown heart: the Cerrado)
The vast tropical savannah ecoregion in central Brazil is, after the more famous Amazonia, the second largest of Brazil's major biomes. Two million square kilometres in size, the Cerrado is characterised by an extraordinary range of plant and animal biodiversity. However, this serenity is in danger. It is disputable whether this threatened natural heritage can be preserved for further generations.
Those who are interested in learning more about this largely unknown region, should take a look at "Life in the Cerrado". The authors, Gerhard Gottsberger and Ilse Silberbauer-Gottsberger, both natives of Graz, Austria, published this groundbreaking two-volumes opus in 2006. The couple are among the most skilled Cerrado experts worldwide, and their 660-page publication represents a lifetime's work. "Life in the Cerrado" delivers a plethora of information about any imaginable biological topic. The authors worked nearly ten years on this book and then couldn't find a publishing house that wanted to publish it at a reasonable price. To ensure adequate quality, Gottsberger and his wife decided to take matters into their own hands. The result reaches unusually high standards in contents and printing quality. The photos and drawings are outstanding as well as the clearly arranged maps, charts, and tables. The layout and the paper quality are both excellent, too. Well done!
From review in Lab Times (News for the European Life Sciences) 5, 2007
Kleber Del Claro, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Minas Gerais
More than a hundred years after the study of Warming, two other European naturalists are offering a gift to tropical biologists and everyone that loves nature, another scientific masterpiece with the cerrados, the Brazilian tropical savanna, as a focus. Life in the Cerrado shows that natural history is still alive, more vigorous than ever.
The first volume, with 21 chapters, opens with an extremely interesting preface that describes the pathways followed by the authors during their studies in Brazil, and additionally introducing their main contributors, also important names to the tropical biology of savannas. Extremely well illustrated, with full-page pictures, in fine colors, marvelous tables, clear and detailed, the whole book can fascinate not only biologists but any nature lover. To the students and researchers on biology of tropical plants this volume is an obligatory source of consultation and citation. With this volume in hand a teacher that has never visited the cerrados is full equipped to organize a graduate course about the origins, characteristics and community ecology of tropical savanna plants.
The second volume, with 36 chapters, and more related to the main interest of the authors, pollination biology and seed dispersal, is a text absolutely indispensable to anyone who is interested in the study of all aspects linked to tropical plant reproduction. This second volume is, if possible, even more effectively illustrated than the previous one. The tables and figures maintain a masterly quality and clarity in presentation. The bibliographic review is complete; all important papers and books in animal-plant interactions published on the Brazilian tropical savanna are properly cited.
To close this short review, a small consideration about the title. Perhaps "Two Lives in Cerrado" could represent better the impressive amount of dedication, effort, and real love we feel in each page of these books. Reading them, ones feel like a child learning again the first steps of how to be a real naturalist.
From review in Tropinet (Newsletter of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation) 19 (1), 2008
Keri McNew, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, Texas
This was a very interesting, informative, and well written book (Vol. I) that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in neotropical or tropical research or any class that covers South American vegetation or ecosystems. I enjoyed the use of such powerful images, charts, tables and maps to help better explain the cerrado. The reader will take away a better understanding of the specific vegetation found in this region and the natural and anthropogenic influences that have effected its growth.
From review in Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 1 (2), 2007
Scott A. Mori, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York
It is not often that I am able to so thoroughly enjoy and learn so much by reviewing a book, but this is one of those times. The two-volume Life in the Cerrado by Gerhard Gottsberger and Ilse Silberbauer-Gottsberger captured and held my attention for the following reasons. In the first place, Gerhard and Ilse arrived in Brazil in the late 1960s and studied cerrado mostly in the state of São Paulo until 1982.
It is especially gratifying to read their book because they are among the few botanists that have so effectively summarized what they have learned from their career-long research interest in cerrado. In the second place, cerrado covers most of the planalto of Brazil, a country which occupies one-half of all of South America, and is a major ecosystem of that continent. Thus, it is of interest to all who study neotropical plants and animals, as I have done throughout my career. Finally, I value this book because it provides a wealth of data about plant/animal interactions that is applicable to similar interactions in tropical vegetation throughout the world, including the Amazonian and Guianan rain forests that I study.
Almost every topic related to cerrado has been covered in these two volumes and, thus, this book is a must for all botanical libraries and most researchers studying tropical ecology. I have provided an extensive list of what is in these two volumes because I want the reader to know how complete this discussion of cerrado is.
The abundant line illustrations, graphs, and superb photographs in both volumes are great additions to this book. They range from the lucid depictions of the different types of cerrado described in volume one to the marvelous flower and pollinator images of volume two. Before reading a chapter, I would peruse the drawings and photography which, by themselves, gave me a very good idea of what was covered in the chapters and allowed me to visualize what I was reading. It practically took my breath away as I turned the pages to see one stunning image after another.
Life in the Cerrado provides a wealth of original information, not only in the text and images, but also in the numerous tables that provide data about such things as the life forms of different species, uses of various species, common names of plants used by Indians, pollinator and dispersal syndromes, lists of species and their pollinators, and lists of species and their dispersal agents. These lists allow other botanists to easily compare their studies with the studies of cerrado described in this book. In short, I truly enjoyed reading these volumes and learned a great deal from taking the time to do so. Thus, I am able to recommend Life in the Cerrado without reservation to those with a passion for tropical ecology, and I am sure that many will want to read both volumes from cover to cover.
Life in the Cerrado represents a very important contribution to botanical science, and, judging from other reviews of it that I have read, other botanists agree with this conclusion.
From review in Brittonia 60 (1), April 30, 2008
Alessandra Fidelis, Universität Freising and Erwin Bergmeier, Universität Göttingen
The Austrian couple, Gerhard Gottsberger and Ilse Silberbauer-Gottsberger, now university of Ulm, Germany, lived in Brazil for nearly three decades, dedicating much of this time to the study of the Brazilian Cerrado. They lived in various states in Brazil, having opportunity to visit several areas of Cerrado. In addition, for long time they studied the famous one-hectare plot of Cerrado in Botucatu. The "Life in the Cerrado" is thus the result of years of dedication and research. The Gottsbergers guide the reader through the beautiful Cerrado world in Brazil, the two volumes being sumptuously illustrated by numerous photos taken by the authors and colleagues, complemented by amazing drawings.
The first volume presents an overview of Cerrado vegetation structure, dynamics, diversity, conservation and plant use. The whole book is full of beautiful pictures of Cerrado and its fauna and flora, instructive maps, tables and graphics. It starts with a discussion about Cerrado definition, followed by chapters on the origin of Cerrado, the extension of this biome, climate, soil types and vegetation physiognomy.
Flower and insect lovers alike will be fascinated by Volume II. All chapters and case studies are copiously illustrated with impressive pictures and drawings. The first 22 chapters introduce the reader to the spectacular world of insect-plant interaction. By means of ample tables and graphics the authors present an excellent overview about pollinators, pollinated plant species, pollination types and its differences among vegetation types. Most pollinators, small bees and flies, are pollination all-rounders. Few plants species have quite specific pollinators. Wind pollination is common among herbaceous plants, as in grasses and sedges, whilst among woody plants it is rare or even absent.
Chapters 23 and 24 relate pollination and floral biology in the famous one-hectare study area in Botucatu and in other vegetation types.
The last chapters of this volume are dedicated to seed dispersal agents and syndromes of the Cerrado. Although approximately 2/3 of all mammal species feed on fruits and seed, birds are the most important group of seed dispersers. A detailed seed-dispersion study, once more exemplified on the one-hectare cerrado area of Botucatu, shows that 45% of all species are zoochorous, 30% anemochorous and 25% autochorous. Differences in dispersal were observed between the vegetation layers and according to fruiting time. In grasses the relevance of adhesive dispersal units, as well as of units with hygroscopic movement through helically twisted awns is emphasized.
The two volumes are an outstanding compilation of decades of authoritative research. Everyone, whether familiar with the remarkable cerrado vegetation or not, will take delight in the photos and be fascinated by the expertly and well-written text. In fact, the "Life in the Cerrado" volumes are a wonderful résumé of a lifetime's dedicated work - and a celebration of the unique Cerrado.
From review in Phytocoenologia, 38 (4), December 30, 2008