Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Titles



1) Dietz, Christian  and Andreas Kiefer. Bats of Britain and Europe. 2016. Bloomsbury. Paperback: 398 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Here is a comprehensive guide to the forty-five bat species that occur across Britain and Europe, based on recent taxonomic advances and newly described species over the last few years. The extensive introduction details the remarkable biology of bats and explores the latest findings in bat evolution and echolocation. In-depth species accounts cover life history, conservation status, and identification. Distribution maps and drawings accompany the text, and the book is illustrated with almost seven hundred breathtaking color photographs. This unique reference is an authoritative field guide suitable for all bat enthusiasts, whether they are beginners, students, professionals, or conservationists.
RECOMMENDATION: Some of the identification photos are small which could limit their usefulness.


2) Harrap, Simon. A Pocket Guide to the Orchids of Britain and Ireland. 2016. Bloomsbury. Paperback: 255 pages. Price: $20.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The orchid family is one of the largest plant families in the world. It is at its most diverse in the tropics, where its exotic and colorful flowers are truly breathtaking. Britain and Ireland have just 56 species of wild orchids, some of which are rare or scarce, while others are surprisingly inconspicuous. Yet whether large or small, all orchids share flamboyant flower structures and incredible beauty.
     This new Pocket Guide covers all 56 species of British and Irish orchids, with concise text, breathtaking color photographs, and accurate range maps based on compilations made by the Biological Record Centre. The book is derived from the highly acclaimed Orchids of Britain and Ireland: A Field and Site Guide, also by Simon Harrap.
RECOMMENDATION: A useful introduction to the orchids of the region.


3) Hawkins, Frank, Roger Safford and Adrian Skerrett. Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands. 2015. Helm/Bloomsbury. Paperback: 336 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Malagasy region contains one of the most extraordinary concentrations of biodiversity in the world. Its recognition as a zoogeographic region in its own right has recently been confirmed, and, all taxa combined, the region was found to hold the second most distinct assemblage of vertebrates in the world after the Australian region, despite being the smallest of them all.
      This new field guide from the Helm Field Guides series covers the whole of the Malagasy region, which comprises the unique island of Madagascar and the various islands and archipelagos of the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles, Comoros, and Mascarenes (Mauritius, RĂ©union, and Rodrigues). Every resident and migrant species is covered in full detail with a color distribution map for each species. Vagrants are also treated in detail, and all species are illustrated on a beautiful series of 124 color plates, with artwork from John Gale and Brian Small. Conveniently, the plates have been arranged so that all the key species of the various archipelagos are placed together in sections.
      This is a major work of reference on the birds of the region and will remain the standard text for many years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the birds of the region!


4) Hunter, Luke. Wild Cats of the World. 2015. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 240 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the rabbit-sized Black-footed Cat of southern Africa to bear-killing Amur tigers of the Russian Far East, the 38 members of the Cat Family include some of the world's most fascinating and magnificent species on earth. Supremely adapted for the kill, all cats are obligate carnivores; they survive only by preying upon other animals, and they have become one of evolution's most successful predatory lineages of mammals.
     Wild Cats of the World explores the spectacular Cat Family in unprecedented depth. Drawing on thousands of scientific papers and direct observations in the field, each species is profiled at length, covering all aspects of felid behaviour and ecology. The book is profusely illustrated with colour plates, black-and-white sketches showing important aspects of cat life, and accurate images of every species' skull. Over 400 spectacular photographs are included, many of them showing extremely rare and little-known cats published here for the first time. Each profile includes an up-to-date range map and explains the most current science on how cats are classified and related to each other, including some very recent, surprising discoveries.
     Despite their great evolutionary success, the challenges facing felids in the modern world are profound. Only one, the ubiquitous domestic cat, does not require dedicated conservation action to ensure survival for the next century. The book also explores the current conservation issues facing wild cats, the increasingly perilous status of many species, and how they can be saved.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated overview of the World's felids.
 

5) Scales, Helen. Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells. 2015. Bloomsbury Sigma. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Seashells, stretching from the deep past into the present day, are touchstones leading into fascinating realms of the natural world and cutting-edge science. Members of the phylum Mollusca are among the most ancient animals on the planet. Their shells provide homes for other animals, and across the ages, people have used shells not only as trinkets but also as a form of money, and as powerful symbols of sex and death, prestige and war.
     The science and natural history of shells are woven into a compelling narrative, revealing their cultural importance and the ways they have been used by humans over the millennia. (Seashells have even been tapped as a source of mind-bending drugs.) Marine biologist Helen Scales shows how seashells have been sculpted by the fundamental rules of mathematics and evolution; how they gave us color, gems, food, and new medicines.
     After surviving multiple mass extinctions millions of years ago, molluscs and their shells still face an onslaught of anthropogenic challenges, including climate change and corrosive oceans. But rather than dwelling on all that is lost, Scales emphasizes that seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect people with nature, helping to bridge the gap between ourselves and the living world. Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells shows why nature matters, and reveals the hidden wonders that you can hold in the palm of your hand.
RECOMMENDATION: This title will be available in paperback in July 2016.

Monday, June 20, 2016

New Titles



1) Arvin, John C.. Hummingbirds: Volume 1. 2016. Gorgas Science Foundation. Hardbound: 216 pages. Price: $60.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: As the distinguished ornithologist Alfred Newton noted in 1881, “There is hardly a precious stone ruby, amethyst, sapphire, emerald, or topaz the name of which may not fitly, and without any exaggeration, be employed in regard to hummingbirds.”
     For thousands of years, these dazzling little birds have captivated and inspired mankind. Hummingbird symbols and impressions can be found in prehistoric petroglyphs, deities, totems, costumes, pottery, and more.
    From the world s smallest bird, the Cuban Bee Hummingbird, which weighs less than a penny, to the South American Sword-billed Hummingbird, the only bird which has a bill longer than the length of its own body, hummingbirds have adapted to live and thrive in an incredible assortment of habitats. Found only in the Americas, over 370 species range from Canada to Chile and the Caribbean islands.
    In celebration of these flying jewels, Gorgas Science Foundation has worked for years to publish volume one of a two volume set of large format, fine-art books which showcase the remarkable beauty and diversity of hummingbirds. Every species of hummingbird has been illustrated in a manner that showcases both male and female, an aspect of their behavior, and a glimpse into their natural environment.
    Measuring in at 12 x 16 inches in size, 216 pages in length, and containing 100 full color plates, which feature 127 species of hummingbird, this book is big, bold, and beautiful!
The first of a two volume set, this first volume showcases the 127 species of hummingbird found throughout North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands.
Proceeds from the sale of this volume will help go towards the production and publication of volume 2.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in hummingbirds.


2) Snyder, David B. and George H. Burgess. Marine Fishes of Florida. 2016. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 373 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY:The most comprehensive book about Florida’s marine fishes ever produced, Marine Fishes of Florida includes hundreds of photographs and descriptions of species you’ll encounter―plus many that are rare―when diving, snorkeling, kayaking, or fishing. Coverage includes both the Atlantic and Gulf coastline, from habitats near the shore to deeper waters. Fishes found in coastal rivers and other brackish waters are fully represented, as are offshore species that venture into Florida’s waters often enough to be called "occasional visitors."
     David B. Snyder and George H. Burgess intertwine personal observations with results from research studies to provide accurate―often surprising―details. The result is a set of beautifully succinct identification descriptions coupled with information about each species’ natural history.
     From the largest sharks to the smallest cryptic gobies, from homely toadfishes to the spectacularly colored reef fishes, this book is certain to help you better understand the fish you’ve seen or hooked.
     Features of Marine Fishes of Florida include:
     Color photographs by leading marine photographers· Differentiation of adult and juvenile forms· Coverage of 133 fish families and hundreds of species· Size and geographical range data· Natural history and conservation notes· Explanations of geologic history and current habitats
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated overview of the subject.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

New Title



1) Walther, Michael. Extinct Birds of Hawaii. 2016. Mutual Publishing. Hardbound: 238 pages. Price: $21.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Extinct Birds of Hawai'i captures the vanishing world of unique bird species that has  slipped away in the Islands mostly due to human frivolity and unconcern. Richly illustrated, including paintings by Julian P. Hume (many painted specifically for this volume), it enables us to enjoy vicariously avian life unique to Hawai'i that exists no longer.  
Extinct Birds of Hawai'i also sends a powerful message: Although Hawai'i is well-known for its unique scenic beauty and its fascinating native flora, fauna, bird and marine life, it is also called the extinction capital of the world. The Islands' seventy-seven bird species and sub-species extinctions account for approximately fifteen percent of global bird extinctions during the last seven-hundred years. On some islands over eighty percent of the original land bird species are now extinct.
     With the many agents of extinction still operating in the Islands' forests, Hawai'i's remaining native land birds are at a high risk of being lost forever. Many birdwatchers, nature lovers, and eco-tourists are unaware of the tremendous loss of species that has occurred in this remote archipelago. Extinct Birds of Hawai'i shows the bird life that has been lost and calls attention to the urgent need for preservation action.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated guide to these species. A must have for those with an interest in Hawaiian birds or bird extinctions.

Friday, June 10, 2016

New Title



1) McAuliffe, Kathleen. This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 268 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A riveting investigation of the myriad ways that parasites control how other creatures—including humans—think, feel, and act.
      These tiny organisms can only live inside another animal, and as McAuliffe reveals, they have many evolutionary motives for manipulating their host’s behavior. Far more often than appreciated, these puppeteers orchestrate the interplay between predator and prey. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them.
       We humans are hardly immune to the profound influence of parasites. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness, impulsivity—even suicide. Microbes in our gut affect our emotions and the very wiring of our brains. Germs that cause colds and flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent.
       Parasites influence our species on the cultural level too. As McAuliffe documents, a subconscious fear of contagion impacts virtually every aspect of our lives, from our sexual attractions and social circles to our morals and political views. Drawing on a huge body of research, she argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites—and a double-edged sword. The horror and revulsion we feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization, but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day.
       In the tradition of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting topic, but not for the squeamish!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Title



1) Athanas, Nick and Paul J. Greenfield. Birds of Western Ecuador: A Photographic Guide. 2016. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 448 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Western Ecuador is famed for its astonishingly diverse birdlife, from colorful hummingbirds and outrageous toucans to more difficult groups like raptors, flycatchers, and ovenbirds. Here is the ultimate photographic guide to the spectacular birds of this region. Featuring nearly 1,500 stunning color photos of 946 species, this richly detailed and taxonomically sophisticated field guide will help you with even the toughest identification challenges. Species accounts, photos, and color distribution maps appear side by side, making it easier than ever to find what you are looking for, whether you are in the field or preparing for your trip.
RECOMMENDATION: A useful supplement to the field guides of the region.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

New Title



1) Hayward, Neil. Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year. 2016. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 400 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn't want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job. He didn't want to think about his failed relationship with "the one" or his potential for ruining a new relationship with "the next one." And he almost certainly didn't want to think about turning forty. And so instead he went birding.
     Birding was a lifelong passion. It was only among the birds that Neil found a calm that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans. But this time he also found competition. His growing list of species reluctantly catapulted him into a Big Year--a race to find the most birds in one year. His peregrinations across twenty-eight states and six provinces in search of exotic species took him to a hoarfrost-covered forest in Massachusetts to find a Fieldfare; to Lake Havasu, Arizona, to see a rare Nutting's Flycatcher; and to Vancouver for the Red-flanked Bluetail. Neil's Big Year was as unplanned as it was accidental: It was the perfect distraction to life.
     Neil shocked the birding world by finding 749 species of bird and breaking the long-standing Big Year record. He also surprised himself: During his time among the hummingbirds, tanagers, and boobies, he found a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his place in it.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in birding big years.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New Title



1) Balcombe, Jonathan. What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins. 2016.  Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardbound: 288 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes. Although there are more than thirty thousand species of fish―more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined―we rarely consider how individual fishes think, feel, and behave. Balcombe upends our assumptions about fishes, portraying them not as unfeeling, dead-eyed feeding machines but as sentient, aware, social, and even Machiavellian―in other words, much like us.
      What a Fish Knows draws on the latest science to present a fresh look at these remarkable creatures in all their breathtaking diversity and beauty. Fishes conduct elaborate courtship rituals and develop lifelong bonds with shoalmates. They also plan, hunt cooperatively, use tools, curry favor, deceive one another, and punish wrongdoers. We may imagine that fishes lead simple, fleeting lives―a mode of existence that boils down to a place on the food chain, rote spawning, and lots of aimless swimming. But, as Balcombe demonstrates, the truth is far richer and more complex, worthy of the grandest social novel.
Highlighting breakthrough discoveries from fish enthusiasts and scientists around the world and pondering his own encounters with fishes, Balcombe examines the fascinating means by which fishes gain knowledge of the places they inhabit, from shallow tide pools to the deepest reaches of the ocean.
      Teeming with insights and exciting discoveries, What a Fish Knows offers a thoughtful appraisal of our relationships with fishes and inspires us to take a more enlightened view of the planet’s increasingly imperiled marine life. What a Fish Knows will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins―the pet goldfish included.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in fish behavior.