Saturday, June 30, 2012

New Titles

1) Berta, Annalisa. Return to the Sea: The Life and Evolutionary Times of Marine Mammals. 2012. University of California Press. Hardbound: 205 pages. Price: $44.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Return to the Sea portrays the life and evolutionary times of marine mammals—from giant whales and sea cows that originated 55 million years ago to the deep diving elephant seals and clam-eating walruses of modern times. This fascinating account of the origin of various marine mammal lineages, some extinct, others extant but threatened, is for the non-specialist. Set against a backdrop of geologic time, changing climates, and changing geography, evolution is the unifying principle that helps us to understand the present day diversity of marine mammals and their responses to environmental challenges. Annalisa Berta explains current controversies and explores patterns of change taking place today, such as shifting food webs and predator-prey relationships, habitat degradation, global warming, and the effects of humans on marine mammal communities.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to marine mammal evolution.

2) Elbroch, Mark, Michael Kresky, and Jonah Evans. Field Guide to Animal Tracks and Scat of California. 2012. University of California Press. Paperback: 395 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Spotting an animal’s fresh footprints in the wild can conjure a world for the hiker: Why did the deer tracks disappear? Where did the cougar turn off the trail? What does it mean when two sets of footprints seem to coincide? This beautifully illustrated field guide, the first devoted to the tracks and signs of California animals—including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates like spiders and beetles—blends meticulous science with field experience to provide an engaging companion for both armchair exploration and easy field identification. Filled with useful tools for the wildlife expert, and essential background and visual aids for the novice, including in-depth information about the ecology of each species, this book goes beyond basic recognition of types to interpret what animals leave behind as a way of “seeing” how they move through the world.
RECOMMENDATION: California naturalists will want this book!

3) Estes, Richard Despard. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. 1992 (reprinted 2012). Paperback: 611 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The Behavior Guide to African Mammals is as different from a conventional field guide as motion pictures are from a snapshot. Whether we are able to look at them face to face, on television, or in the hundreds of illustrations provided here by Daniel Otte, this guide allows us to understand what animals do and what their behavior means.
     Drawing on his own extensive fieldwork and on the research of many other scientists, Richard Despard Estes describes and explains the behavior of four major groups of mammals. Estes's remarkably informative guide is as up-to-date (as of 1992) for the zoologist as it is accessible for the interested onlooker.
RECOMMENDATION: This classic volume is now available again on its 20th anniversary!

4) Sandercock, Brett K., Kathy Martin, and Gernot Segelbacher (editors). Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Grouse (Studies in Avian Biology, 39). 2011. University of California Press. Hardbound: 356 pages. Price: $70.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Grouse—an ecologically important group of birds that include capercaillie, prairie chickens, and ptarmigan—are distributed throughout the forests, grasslands, and tundra of Europe, Asia, and North America. Today, many grouse populations are in decline, and the conservation and management of these charismatic birds is becoming a global concern. This volume summarizes current knowledge of grouse biology in 25 chapters contributed by 80 researchers from field studies around the world. Organized in four sections—Spatial Ecology, Habitat Relationships, Population Biology, and Conservation and Management—the chapters offer important insights into spatial requirements, movements, and demography of grouse. Much of the research employs emerging tools in ecology that span biogeochemistry, molecular genetics, endocrinology, radio-telemetry, and remote sensing. The chapters explore topics including the impacts of climate change, energy development, and harvest, and give new evidence for life-history changes in response to human activities.
RECOMMENDATION: Grouse biologists, especially those studying "prairie and sage grouse" will find this book useful.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Forthcoming Title

Second edition of Birds of South Asia. Price: $69.00 U.S.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Titles

1) Brusatte, Stephen L.. Dinosaur Paleobiology. 2012. Wiley-Blackwell. Paperback: 322 pages. Price: $80.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: The study of dinosaurs has been experiencing a remarkable renaissance over the past few decades. Scientific understanding of dinosaur anatomy, biology, and evolution has advanced to such a degree that paleontologists often know more about 100-million-year-old dinosaurs than many species of living organisms.   
     This book provides a contemporary review of dinosaur science intended for students, researchers, and dinosaur enthusiasts. It reviews the latest knowledge on dinosaur anatomy and phylogeny, how dinosaurs functioned as living animals, and the grand narrative of dinosaur evolution across the Mesozoic. A particular focus is on the fossil evidence and explicit methods that allow paleontologists to study dinosaurs in rigorous detail. Scientific knowledge of dinosaur biology and evolution is shifting fast, and this book aims to summarize current understanding of dinosaur science in a technical, but accessible, style, supplemented with vivid photographs and illustrations.
     The Topics in Paleobiology Series is published in collaboration with the Palaeontological Association, and is edited by Professor Mike Benton, University of Bristol.
RECOMMENDATION: A detailed overview on the biology of dinosaurs.

2) Casey, Rob. Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands (3rd edition). 2012. The Mountaineers Books. Paperback: 287 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Kayak, canoe, and stand up padding routes that promise beauty and adventure, this guide includes:

* Completely updated information and maps, all new photographs, and over 10 all new trips
* Revised, easier-to-use Trips-at-a-Glance chart
* Originally for kayakers, info now applies to a range of vessels including pedaling kayaks, stand up paddleboards, canoes, row boats, shells, and even kayak-sailing outriggers
      The miles of inland waterways of the Pacific Northwest are among the best in the world for paddling. Beautiful scenery, intricate and protected waterways, and abundant marine life define the area, while on shore are ample public parklands for camping and exploring.
     The 60 trips in this extensively updated 3rd edition of the bestselling Kayaking Puget Sound & the San Juan Islands cover the Sound's myriad islands, fjord-like canals, and inlets from Canada's Gulf Islands to the Nisqually River Delta, including the fabulous San Juan Islands and the unique Hood Canal. Each trip description covers all the details paddlers need to plan and complete specific tours throughout the region.
     Other important updates to this 3rd edition include: modern safety tips (emphasis on proper gear and PFDs); a list of weather resources; how to make use of cell phones and mobile apps that utilize GPS and real-time navigational data; a resources section on kayaking training in the region through paddle clubs, certification groups, and paddle shops; how to prepare for open water trips; new info on how to cross into Canada; and more. Kayaking Puget Sound & the San Juan Islands, 3rd Edition, gives novice paddlers, weekenders, and lifelong kayakers the inspiration and knowledge to get out and explore the Northwest via its singular waterways.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those kayaking the region!

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Title

1) Hoose, Phillip. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95. 2012. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardbound: 148 pages. Price: $21.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: B95 can feel it: a stirring in his bones and feathers. It’s time. Today is the day he will once again cast himself into the air, spiral upward into the clouds, and bank into the wind.
     He wears a black band on his lower right leg and an orange flag on his upper left, bearing the laser inscription B95. Scientists call him the Moonbird because, in the course of his astoundingly long lifetime, this gritty, four-ounce marathoner has flown the distance to the moon—and halfway back!
     B95 is a robin-sized shorebird, a Red Knot of the subspecies rufa. Each February he joins a flock that lifts off from Tierra del Fuego, headed for breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, nine thousand miles away. Late in the summer, he begins the return journey.
     B95 can fly for days without eating or sleeping, but eventually he must descend to refuel and rest. However, recent changes at ancient refueling stations along his migratory circuit—changes caused mostly by human activity—have reduced the food available and made it harder for the birds to reach. And so, since 1995, when B95 was first captured and banded, the worldwide rufa population has collapsed by nearly 80 percent. Most perish somewhere along the great hemispheric circuit, but the Moonbird wings on. He has been seen as recently as November 2011, which makes him nearly twenty years old. Shaking their heads, scientists ask themselves: How can this one bird make it year after year when so many others fall?
     National Book Award–winning author Phillip Hoose takes us around the hemisphere with the world’s most celebrated shorebird, showing the obstacles rufa red knots face, introducing a worldwide team of scientists and conservationists trying to save them, and offering insights about what we can do to help shorebirds before it’s too late. With inspiring prose, thorough research, and stirring images, Hoose explores the tragedy of extinction through the triumph of a single bird.
RECOMMENDATION: For ages 10 and up. A detailed overview on the life history and plight of the Red Knot.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                              Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman                                                   

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Title

1) Buczacki, Stefan, Chris Shields and Denys Ovenden. Collins Fungi Guide: The Most Complete Field Guide to the Mushrooms & Toadstools of Britain & Ireland. 2012. Collins. Hardbound: 640 pages. Price: GBP 35.00 (about $55.00 U.S.).

SUMMARY: The sixth title in the bestselling Collins Guide series, this book covers the fungi of the British Isles, with considerable relevance for Europe and the wider temperate world.
     Leading mycological artists have been specially commissioned to ensure accurate, detailed illustrations. Where possible, species are described and illustrated on the same page, with up-to-date authoritative text aiding identification. Nearly 2,400 species are illustrated in full colour, with detailed notes on how to correctly identify them, including details of similar, confusing species. Illustrations of young and mature fruiting bodies are included where necessary, and key features are highlighted for quick and easy reference.
     Written by one of Europe's leading mycologists and horticultural scientists, Stefan Buczacki, and illustrated by two of the world's leading natural history illustrators, Chris Shields and Denys Ovenden, this is the ultimate field guide for mushroom and toadstool lovers.
RECOMMENDATION: The paperback version will be published later this year.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Title

1) Rieser, Alison. The Case of the Green Turtle: An Uncensored History of a Conservation Icon. 2012. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 338 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: The journals of early maritime explorers traversing the Atlantic Ocean often describe swarms of sea turtles, once a plentiful source of food. Many populations had been decimated by the 1950s, when Archie Carr and others raised public awareness of their plight. One species, the green turtle, has been the most heavily exploited due to international demand for turtle products, especially green turtle soup. The species has achieved some measure of recovery due to thirty years of conservation efforts, but remains endangered.
     In The Case of the Green Turtle, Alison Rieser provides an unparalleled look into the way science and conservation interact by focusing on the most controversial aspect of green turtle conservation—farming. While proponents argued that farming green sea turtles would help save them, opponents countered that it encouraged a taste for turtle flesh that would lead to the slaughter of wild stocks. The clash of these viewpoints once riveted the world.
     Rieser relies on her expertise in ocean ecology, policy, and law to reveal how the efforts to preserve sea turtles changed marine conservation and the way we view our role in the environment. Her study of this early conservation controversy will fascinate anyone who cares about sea turtles or the oceans in which they live.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in sea turtle conservation.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Featured Title

1) Whitacre, David F.(editor). Neotropical Birds of Prey: Biology and Ecology of a Forest Raptor Community. 2012. Cornell University Press. Hardbound: 412 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Until recently, surprisingly little has been known about the biology and behavior of tropical forest raptors, including such basic aspects as diets, breeding biology, habitat requirements, and population ecology, information critical to the development of conservation efforts. The Peregrine Fund conducted a significant eight-year-long research program on the raptor species, including owls, in Tikal National Park in Guatemala to learn more about Neotropical birds of prey. Impressive and unprecedented in scale, this pioneering research also involved the development of new methods for detecting, enumerating, and studying these magnificent but often elusive birds in their forest home. Beautifully illustrated with photographs of previously little-known species, the resulting book is the most important single source for information on the lowland tropical forest raptor species found in Central America.
     Neotropical Birds of Prey covers twenty specific species in depth, including the Ornate Hawk-Eagle, the Barred Forest-Falcon, the Bat Falcon, and the Mexican Wood Owl, offering thorough synopses of all current knowledge regarding breeding biology and behavior, diet, habitat use, and spatial needs. Contributors to this landmark work also show how the populations fit together as a community with overlapping habitat and prey needs that can put them in competition with reptiles and mammalian carnivores as well, yet differ from one another in their nesting or feeding behaviors and population dynamics. The work's substantive original data offer interesting comparisons between tropical and temperate zone species, and provide a basis for establishing conservation measures based on firsthand research. Making available for the first time new data on the biology, ecology, behavior, and conservation of the majestic owls and raptors of the New World tropics, this book will appeal to a wide ornithological readership, especially the many raptor enthusiasts around the world.
RECOMMENDATION: The species included are the following: Kites (Gray-headed, Hook-billed, Swallow-tailed, Double-toothed, Plumbeous), Hawks (Bicolored, Crane, White, Great Black, Roadside), Eagles (Crested, Black Hawk-, Ornate Hawk-), Falcons (Barred Forest-, Collared Forest-, Laughing, Bat, Orange-breasted) and Owls (Mexican Wood- and Black-and-white). Neotropical raptor researchers will want this book!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Title

1) Palmer, Tim. Field Guide to California Rivers. 2012. University of California Press. Paperback: 330 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Award-winning author, naturalist, and conservationist Tim Palmer presents the world of California rivers in this practical and inspiring field guide. Loaded with tips on where to hike, fish, canoe, kayak, and raft, it offers an interpretive approach that reveals geology, plant and wild life, hydrologic processes, and other natural phenomena. Palmer reports on conservation with a perspective from decades of personal engagement. More than 150 streams are featured, 50 riparian species are illustrated, and 180 photos show the essence of California’s rivers. Palmer brings a natural history guide, a recreation guide, and an introduction to river ecology together in one illuminating volume; it belongs in every river lover’s book collection, boat, and backpack.
RECOMMENDATION: Anyone exploring California rivers will want this book!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Title

1) Scruton, Roger. How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case For an Environmental Conservatism. 2012. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 457 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The environment has long been the undisputed territory of the political Left, which casts international capitalism, consumerism, and the over-exploitation of natural resources as the principle threats to the planet, and sees top-down interventions as the most effective solution.
     In How to Think Seriously About the Planet, Roger Scruton rejects this view and offers a fresh approach to tackling the most important political problem of our time. The environmental movement, he contends, is philosophically confused and has unrealistic agendas. Its sights are directed at the largescale events and the confrontation between international politics and multinational business. But Scruton argues that no large-scale environmental project, however well-intentioned, will succeed if it is not rooted in small-scale practical reasoning. Seeing things on a large scale promotes top-down solutions, managed by unaccountable bureaucracies that fail to assess local conditions and are rife with unintended consequences. Scruton argues for the greater efficacy of local initiatives over global schemes, civil association over political activism, and small-scale institutions of friendship over regulatory hyper-vigilance. And he suggests that conservatism is far better suited to solving environmental problems than either liberalism or socialism. Rather than entrusting the environment to unwieldy NGOs and international committees, we must assume personal responsibility and foster local control. People must be empowered to take charge of their environment, to care for it as they would a home, and to involve themselves through the kind of local associations that have been the traditional goal of conservative politics.
     Our common future is by no means assured, but as Roger Scruton clearly demonstrates in this important book, there is a path that can ensure the future safety of our planet and our species.
RECOMMENDATION: This book offers a different take on environmental problems and how to solve them.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Title

1) Pratchett, Terry and Stephen Baxter. The Long Earth. 2012. Harper. Hardbound: 352 pages. Price: $25.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: The possibilities are endless. (Just be careful what you wish for. . . .)
1916: The Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong and the wind in the leaves. Where have the mud, blood, and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?
2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive—some say mad, others allege dangerous—scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson find a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and . . . a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.
    The first novel in an exciting new collaboration between Discworld creator Terry Pratchett and the acclaimed SF writer Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth transports readers to the ends of the earth—and far beyond. All it takes is a single step. . . .
RECOMMENDATION: This book is sort of a hybrid between Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. Fans of those two books should enjoy this one.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                               Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Title

1) Jones, Richard and Justine Crow. The Little Book of Nits. 2012. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 128 pages. Price: GBP 7.99 (about $12.38 U.S.).

SUMMARY: It's not something easily owned up to, but every family in the country will have come into contact with head lice, either through embarrassing personal experience or by grizzly tales told by friends and relations. The world is teeming with head lice.
     Both a manual and an entertaining read, The Little Book of Nits is small enough to be purchased as an impulse buy, but also serious enough for it to be a useful addition to the home reference library. Broken down into bite-sized pieces are full details of the history and biology of head lice, advice on how to spot an infestation and the many different ways of dealing with it, natural versus chemical treatments, gadgets and combs, and other aspects of our relationship with these annoying arthropods. Inside, we'll learn that most of what you have been told or think you know is wrong. Is it any wonder we can't get rid of them?
     Throughout, the book is illuminated with amusing anecdotes, myths, pictures, cartoons, silly stories and interesting facts. Presented clearly and objectively, it is a quick reference tool for parents and carers, and an entertaining little guide to these most irritating of insect.
RECOMMENDATION: This is a lousy book and that's a good thing! My favorite section is: Keeping Lice as Pets (pages 112-113).

New Title

1) Heinrich, Bernd. Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 236 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: From one of the finest naturalist/writers of our time, a fascinating investigation of Nature’s inspiring death-to-life cycle.
     When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if he might have his “green burial” at Bernd Heinrich’s hunting camp in Maine, it inspired the acclaimed biologist to investigate a subject that had long fascinated him. How exactly does the animal world deal with the flip side of the life cycle? And what are the lessons, ecological to spiritual, raised by a close look at how the animal world renews itself? Heinrich focuses his wholly original gaze on the fascinating doings of creatures most of us would otherwise turn away from—field mouse burials conducted by carrion beetles; the communication strategies of ravens, “the premier northern undertakers”; and the “inadvertent teamwork” among wolves and large cats, foxes and weasels, bald eagles and nuthatches in cold-weather dispersal of prey. Heinrich reveals, too, how and where humans still play our ancient and important role as scavengers, thereby turning—not dust to dust—but life to life.
RECOMMENDATION: This book will help you to stop thinking of death as an end of life but as a recycling to a new life. Fans of Heinrich's other books will also enjoy this book!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Recent Title

1) Leisler, Bernd and Karl Schulze-Hagen. The Reed Warblers: Diversity in a Uniform Bird Family. 2011. KNNV Publishing. Hardbound: 327 pages. Price: EUR 65.99 (about $82.64 U.S.).

SUMMARY: To the untrained eye, all reed warblers may look alike. Anyone who takes a closer look will quickly realize that there is in fact an amazing spectrum of different ecological and adaptive strategies across the world´s 53 species. Members of the reed warbler family have been models for this diversity in a large number of biological studies of avian lifestyles. Many of these have resulted in outstanding findings and set new standards in behavioural and evolutionary ecology.
     The authors rise to the challenge of determining how the members of the family have diversified by comparing their relationships and ecologies. This comparative approach runs like a thread throughout this book and touches on almost all biological aspects, ranging from habitat use, competition and communication to reproduction and brood parasitism, mating systems, migration, population dynamics, island life and convergent evolution. The life strategies of these ‘little brown jobs’ exemplify some of the key topics in 21st century ornithology. This integrative overview combines published and unpublished information and is richly illustrated with large numbers of photographs, drawings and maps which makes this book a fascinating read for bird watchers and bird researchers alike.
RECOMMENDATION: This book would make a good supplement to Peter Kennerley and David Pearson's Reed and Bush Warblers (2010, Christopher Helm).

Also available from BUTEO BOOKS here.

Ornithological Monographs

1) Ornithological Monographs. The following were published by The American Ornithologists' Union:
 A) Brown, Charles R. and Valerie A. O'Brien. Are Wild Birds Important in the Transport of Arthropod-borne Viruses? O.M. #71. 2011. Paperback: 64 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The encephalitic arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) can cause a variety of serious human and wildlife diseases, including eastern equine encephalomyelitis, western equine encephalomyelitis, St. Louis encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile neuroinvasive disease. Understanding how these pathogens are dispersed through the environment is important both in managing their health-related impact and in interpreting patterns of their genetic variability over wide areas. Because many arboviruses infect wild birds and can be amplified to a level that makes birds infectious to insect vectors, numerous workers have suggested that the movements of migratory birds represent a major way that these viruses can be transported on a local, continental, and intercontinental scale.
B) Smith, N. Adam and Julia A. Clarke. An Alphataxonomic Revision of Extinct and Extant Razorbills: Morphometric and Phylogenetic Approach, O.M. #72. 2011. Paperback: 61 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Alca (Aves, Alcidae) has a comparatively rich fossil record with respect to other Charadriiformes, consisting of thousands of specimens. Despite the abundance of fossil material, species richness in this clade has remained poorly understood, primarily because of the paucity of associated specimens. To address this issue, a combined morphometric and apomorphy-based method was developed that would allow referral of fragmentary and isolated specimens, which constitute ~97% of the Alca fossil record. Measurements of multiple variables from >2,000 Alca fossils were categorized by hierarchical cluster analysis and resulted in the recognition of species clusters. Discriminant function analysis was used to assess statistical support for these clusters and to identify the most informative measurements with respect to discriminating between species on the basis of size. The reliability of this method was tested using the same measurements taken from 13 extant alcid species and was found to be robust with respect to the accurate recovery of species-correlated groups of measurement data.
C) Vanderwerf, Eric A.. Ecogeographic Patterns of Morphological Variation in Elepaios (Chasiempis spp.): Bergmann's, Allen's, and Gloger's Rules in a Microcosm, O.M. #73. 2012. Paperback: 34 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Animals often exhibit predictable geographic variation in morphology, and such ecogeographic patterns reflect local adaptation to varying environmental conditions. The most common of these patterns are termed Bergmann's, Allen's, and Gloger's rules. I studied morphological variation in the Hawaii Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis) and the Oahu Elepaio (C. ibidis), forest birds endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. I measured body size and plumage color of 223 live elepaios captured at 36 sites on Hawaii and 132 live elepaios captured at 23 sites on Oahu, and I examined 132 museum specimens from an additional 22 locations on Hawaii. I used multiple regressions to examine relationships of elepaio body size and plumage color to elevation and annual rainfall on each island.

RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in the topics covered by these monographs.

O.M. #72 is available from BUTEO BOOKS here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The WEEKLY Birdbooker Report

                                     Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman 

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: