Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Title

 

 


1) Chatterjee, Sankar. The Rise of Birds: 225 Million Years of Evolution (second edition). 2015. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 370 pages. Price: $59.95 U.S.

PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A small set of fossilized bones discovered almost thirty years ago led paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee on a lifelong quest to understand their place in our understanding of the history of life. They were clearly the bones of something unusual, a bird-like creature that lived long, long ago in the age of dinosaurs. He called it Protoavis, and the animal that owned these bones quickly became a contender for the title of "oldest known bird." In 1997, Chatterjee published his findings in the first edition of The Rise of Birds.
     Since then Chatterjee and his colleagues have searched the world for more transitional bird fossils. And they have found them. This second edition of The Rise of Birds brings together a treasure trove of fossils that tell us far more about the evolution of birds than we once dreamed possible.
     With no blind allegiance to what he once thought he knew, Chatterjee devours the new evidence and lays out the most compelling version of the birth and evolution of the avian form ever attempted. He takes us from Texas to Spain, China, Mongolia, Madagascar, Australia, Antarctica, and Argentina. He shows how, in the "Cretaceous Pompeii" of China, he was able to reconstruct the origin and evolution of flight of early birds from the feathered dinosaurs that lay among thousands of other amazing fossils.
     Chatterjee takes us to where long-hidden bird fossils dwell. His compelling, occasionally controversial, revelations—accompanied by spectacular illustrations—are a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the evolution of "the feathered dinosaurs," from vertebrate paleontologists and ornithologists to naturalists and birders. 
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with a serious interest in fossil birds.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Titles



1) Loxton, Daniel and Donald R. Prothero. Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids. 2015 (2013). Columbia University Press. Paperback: 411 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.
     Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world. 
RECOMMENDATION: This well received book is now available in paperback.



2) Savard, Jean-Pierre L., Dirk V. Derksen, Dan Esler, John M. Eadie (editors). Ecology and Conservation of North American Sea Ducks. 2015. CRC Press. Hardbound: 584 pages. Price: $149.95.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The past decade has seen a huge increase in the interest and attention directed toward sea ducks, the Mergini tribe. This has been inspired, in large part, by the conservation concerns associated with numerical declines in several sea duck species and populations, as well as a growing appreciation for their interesting ecological attributes. Reflecting the considerable research recently conducted on this tribe, Ecology and Conservation of North American Sea Ducks examines the 15 extant species of sea ducks from North America.
     Chapters are organized conceptually to focus on, compare, and contrast the ecological attributes of the tribe. Experts provide in-depth treatments of a range of topics, including:
  • Population dynamics and genetics
  • Infectious diseases and parasites
  • Breeding costs and cross-seasonal affects
  • Contaminant burdens
  • Foraging behavior and energetics
  • Migration strategies, molt ecology, and habitat affinities and dynamics
  • Breeding systems and reproductive behavior
  • Harvest history
The book presents a comprehensive synthesis of sea duck ecology, documents factors that have caused population declines of some species, and provides managers with measures to enhance recovery of depressed populations of sea ducks in North America. Capturing the current state of knowledge of this unique tribe, it provides a benchmark for where we are in conservation efforts and suggests future directions for researchers, managers, students, conservationists, and avian enthusiasts.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in the subject.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Titles


1) Baicich, Paul J., Margaret A. Barker, and Carrol L. Henderson. Feeding Wild Birds in America: Culture, Commerce, and Conservation. 2015. Texas A&M University Press. Paperback: 306 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Today, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, more than fifty million Americans feed birds around their homes, and over the last sixty years, billions of pounds of birdseed have filled millions of feeders in backyards everywhere. Feeding Wild Birds in America tells why and how a modest act of provision has become such a pervasive, popular, and often passionate aspect of people’s lives.
      Each chapter provides details on one or more bird-feeding development or trend including the “discovery” of seeds, the invention of different kinds of feeders, and the creation of new companies. Also woven into the book are the worlds of education, publishing, commerce, professional ornithology, and citizen science, all of which have embraced bird feeding at different times and from different perspectives.
     The authors take a decade-by-decade approach starting in the late nineteenth century, providing a historical overview in each chapter before covering topical developments (such as hummingbird feeding and birdbaths). On the one hand, they show that the story of bird feeding is one of entrepreneurial invention; on the other hand, they reveal how Americans, through a seemingly simple practice, have come to value the natural world. 
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in the history of wild bird feeding.


2) Chan-ard, Tanya, Jarujin Nabhitabhata, and John W. K. Parr. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand. 2015. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 314 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Thailand is home to over 350 species of reptiles, consisting of many kinds of turtles and tortoises, lizards, snakes and crocodiles. With its extensive network of protected areas, Thailand is one of the richest and most ecologically diverse countries in the world. However, many of these species are being threatened more than ever before, including habitat loss caused by agricultural expansion and intensification, and from wildlife trade. For herpetologists and naturalists, understanding the reptiles of Thailand is now more important than ever before.
     With A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand, Tanya Chan-ard, John Parr, and Jarujin Nabhitabhata present the definitive resource for identifying and understanding all known species of reptile in the region. It is the only updated and complete guide to the country's reptilian life in existence. The book contains an account of every species, complete with nomenclature, color illustrations, and range maps of known locations. The accounts include discussion of behavior, morphological measurements, and habitat, as well as the most current information on each species' conservation status. The authors explain the current system of classifying the threat level of endangerment, making the presented information and terminology understandable and useful. The introduction to the book discusses the history of herpetology in Thailand, as well as its climate, physiography, and zoogeography. A section on how to use the guide most effectively has also been included to make the book accessible to a wide range of both scientists and nature enthusiasts. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand is the definitive and most comprehensive resource for herpetologists, naturalists, and conservationists working in Thailand. 
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with an interest in the reptiles of the region.

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                         Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman


My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-369/

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Title


1) Horgan, John. The End Of Science: Facing The Limits Of Knowledge In The Twilight Of The Scientific Age. 2015 (1996). Basic Books. Paperback: 333 pages. Price: $17.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In The End of Science, John Horgan makes the case that the era of truly profound scientific revelations about the universe and our place in it is over. Interviewing scientific luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, and Richard Dawkins, he demonstrates that all the big questions that can be answered have been answered, as science bumps up against fundamental limits. The world cannot give us a "theory of everything," and modern endeavors such as string theory are "ironic" and "theological" in nature, not scientific, because they are impossible to confirm. Horgan's argument was controversial in 1996, and it remains so today, still firing up debates in labs and on the internet, not least because—as Horgan details in a lengthy new introduction—ironic science is more prevalent than ever. Still, while Horgan offers his critique, grounded in the thinking of the world's leading researchers, he offers homage, too. If science is ending, he maintains, it is only because it has done its work so well. 
RECOMMENDATION: This paperback reissue has a new preface.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New Titles




1) Gustafson, Mark. A Naturalist's Guide to the Texas Hill Country. 2015. Texas A&M University Press. Flexibound: 350 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In this guide, biologist Mark Gustafson introduces residents and visitors to the history, geology, water resources, plants, and animals found in the nineteen counties occupying the eastern part of the Edwards Plateau, the heart of the Hill Country.
     He profiles three hundred of the most common and unique species from all of the major groups of plants and animals: trees, shrubs, wildflowers, cacti, vines, grasses, ferns, fungi, lichens, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and invertebrates. Color photographs are included for each species along with a brief description.
     He closes with a chapter on significant state parks and natural areas in the region as an invitation to visit and explore the Texas Hill Country.
     As large metropolitan areas continue to encroach on the Hill Country, newcomers are moving in and more people are flocking to its many attractions. This guidebook will enrich the appreciation of the region’s rich and unique biodiversity and encourage conservation of the natural world encountered. 
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the natural history of the region.









2) Liddell, Judy and Barbara Hussey. Birding Hot Spots of Santa Fe, Taos, and Northern New Mexico. 2015. Texas A&M University Press. Flexibound: 283 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In their second guide to birding in New Mexico, Judy Liddell and Barbara Hussey share their experiences and intimate knowledge of the best places to find birds in and around Santa Fe and other areas in northern New Mexico.
     Following the same format as their book on the Albuquerque area, the authors describe 32 sites organized by geographic regions. Along with a general description of each area, the authors list target birds; explain where and when to look for them; give driving directions; provide information about public transportation, parking, fees, restrooms, food, and lodging; and give tips on availability of water and picnic facilities and on the presence of hazards such as poison ivy, rattlesnakes, and bears. Maps and photographs provide trail diagrams and images of some of the target birds and their environments.
     A “helpful information” section covering weather, altitude, safety, transportation, and other local birding resources is included along with an annotated checklist of 276 bird species seen with some regularity in and around Santa Fe. 
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders with an interest in the region.


3) Waltho, Chris and John Coulson. The Common Eider. 2015. Bloomsbury.  Hardbound: 352 pages. Price: $ 85.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A common sight around the more northerly shores of the British Isles, the Common Eider is the largest duck in the northern hemisphere. The eider is particularly well adapted to cold-water environments; the insulating properties of eider down are iconic. The species is taxonomically interesting, with a range of well-marked subspecies reflecting the patterns of ice coverage during ancient glaciations, and these ducks have also provided the focus for a number of important behavioural studies, especially on feeding ecology and energy budgets.
     Eiders have a long association with humans, and have deep cultural significance in many societies. However, modern lifestyles are exposing these ducks to a wide range of new pressures.
    This monograph provides a comprehensive portrait of the Common Eider; authors Chris Waltho and John Coulson bring together an extensive and diverse international literature, with sections on taxonomy, habitats, breeding biology, population dynamics, diet and foraging, dispersal and migration, and conservation.  

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with a serious interest in this species.

My Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                      Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman


My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-368/