Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Title


1) Webster, Michael S.(editor). The Extended Specimen: Emerging Frontiers in Collections-Based Ornithological Research. 2017. CRC Press. Hardbound: 240 pages. Price: $139.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Extended Specimen highlights the research potential for ornithological specimens, and is meant to encourage ornithologists poised to initiate a renaissance in collections-based ornithological research. Contributors illustrate how collections and specimens are used in novel ways by adopting emerging new technologies and analytical techniques. Case studies use museum specimens and emerging and non-traditional types of specimens, which are developing new methods for making biological collections more accessible and "usable" for ornithological researchers. Thus, book documents the power of ornithological collections to address key research questions of global importance.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in ornithological specimens.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Title


1) McKay, John J.. Discovering the Mammoth: A Tale of Giants, Unicorns, Ivory, and the Birth of a New Science. 2017. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 241 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The fascinating saga of solving the mystery of this ancient animal who once roamed the north country―and has captivated our collective imagination ever since.
      Today, we know that a mammoth is an extinct type of elephant that was covered with long fur and lived in the north country during the ice ages. But how do you figure out what a mammoth is if you have no concept of extinction, ice ages, or fossils? Long after the last mammoth died and was no longer part of the human diet, it still played a role in human life. Cultures around the world interpreted the remains of mammoths through the lens of their own worldview and mythology.
     When the ancient Greeks saw deposits of giant fossils, they knew they had discovered the battle fields where the gods had vanquished the Titans. When the Chinese discovered buried ivory, they knew they had found dragons’ teeth. But as the Age of Reason dawned, monsters and giants gave way to the scientific method. Yet the mystery of these mighty bones remained. How did Enlightenment thinkers overcome centuries of myth and misunderstanding to reconstruct an unknown animal?
     The journey to unravel that puzzle begins in the 1690s with the arrival of new type of ivory on the European market bearing the exotic name "mammoth." It ends during the Napoleonic Wars with the first recovery of a frozen mammoth. The path to figuring out the mammoth was traveled by merchants, diplomats, missionaries, cranky doctors, collectors of natural wonders, Swedish POWs, Peter the Great, Ben Franklin, the inventor of hot chocolate, and even one pirate.
     McKay brings together dozens of original documents and illustrations, some ignored for centuries, to show how this odd assortment of characters solved the mystery of the mammoth and, in doing so, created the science of paleontology. 8 pages of black-and-white illustrations.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in mammoths. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

New Title


1) Thibault, Jean-Claude and Alice Cibois. Birds of Eastern Polynesia: A Biogeographic Atlas. 2017. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 438 pages. Price: $37.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds of Eastern Polynesia is the first biogeographic atlas covering all of the birds of one of the largest areas of Oceania. The book treats all of the 241 species, including extinct birds, ever recorded on the Line Islands, the Cook, Austral, Society, Marquesas, Tuamotu and Gambier archipelagos, the Pitcairn Group, and the Eastern Is. Group. Their distribution over the 151 islands of the region is detailed in 142 maps. The species accounts include systematics, a detailed morphometric or genetic analysis when it is available, and data on distribution, population size and trends, habitat and breeding. All species recorded in Eastern Polynesia are illustrated in color, except those only known by bone records.
     Birds of Eastern Polynesia represents an original and much needed ornithological synthesis of all the available literature on Eastern Polynesian birds, including many difficult-to find reports, as well as unpublished data gathered from local ornithologists and biologists. It also contains new data collected by the authors during numerous field trips in Eastern Polynesia and during visits to museum collections. This work presents a complete overview of this vast oceanic region for anyone with an interest in the biology, biogeography and conservation of the birds of the Pacific islands.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in the birds of the region.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Title


1) Arlott, Norman. Birds of South-East Asia (Collins Field Guide). 2017. William Collins. Hardbound: 432 pages. Price: about $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This comprehensive new field guide is an excellent addition to the world-renowned series – the ultimate reference book for travelling birdwatchers.
     Every species of bird you might encounter in the region is featured, apart from non-established introductions. This includes coverage of China (south of the line used to define the Palearctic), Hainan (treated separately from SE China), Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and the Coco Islands. As many of the major subspecies as possible are also included.
     Beautiful artwork depicts their breeding plumage, and non-breeding plumage when it differs significantly. The accompanying text concentrates on the specific characteristics and appearance of each species that allow identification in the field, including voice and distribution maps.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the birds of the region.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

New Title


1) MacNeal, David. Bugged: The Insects Who Rule the World and the People Obsessed with Them. 2017. St. Martin's Press. Hardbound: 308 pages. Price: $25.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Insects have been shaping our ecological world and plant life for over 400 million years. In fact, our world is essentially run by bugs―there are 1.4 billion for every human on the planet. In Bugged, journalist David MacNeal takes us on an off-beat scientific journey that weaves together history, travel, and culture in order to define our relationship with these mini-monsters.
      MacNeal introduces a cast of bug-lovers―from a woman facilitating tarantula sex and an exterminator nursing bedbugs (on his own blood), to a kingpin of the black market insect trade and a “maggotologist”―who obsess over the crucial role insects play in our everyday lives.
      Just like bugs, this book is global in its scope, diversity, and intrigue. Hands-on with pet beetles in Japan, releasing lab-raised mosquitoes in Brazil, beekeeping on a Greek island, or using urine and antlers as means of ancient pest control, MacNeal’s quest appeals to the squeamish and brave alike. Demonstrating insects’ amazingly complex mechanics, he strings together varied interactions we humans have with them, like extermination, epidemics, and biomimicry. And, when the journey comes to an end, MacNeal examines their commercial role in our world in an effort to help us ultimately cherish (and maybe even eat) bugs.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in entomology.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

New Title



1) Carruthers, Vincent (editor). Wildlife of Southern Africa: A field guide to the animals and plants of the region. 2017. Struik Nature. Paperback: 336 pages. Price: $23.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A field guide to the wildlife of southern Africa, describing over 2,000 plants and animals, with clear illustrations in full colour. This book has been a trusted field companion for many years. Comprehensively updated, it now features range maps for most groups. The chapters are colour-coded for easy reference, and diagnostic features appear in bold type within the descriptions. Each chapter is written by a leading expert in the field: • Lower invertebrates Mike Musgrave • Spiders and other arachnids Astri Leroy • Insects Mike Musgrave • Freshwater fishes Paul Skelton • Frogs Vincent Carruthers • Reptiles Bill Branch • Birds Ken Newman and Christine Read • Mammals Peter Apps • Grasses, sedges, ferns and fungi Elsa Pooley • Wild flowers Elsa Pooley • Trees Elsa Pooley.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the wildlife of the region.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Title



1) Ryan, Peter. Guide to Seabirds of Southern Africa. 2017. Struik Nature. Paperback: 160 pages. Price: $14.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A field guide to the seabirds that occur around the southern African coastline. Written by a specialist in the field of seabirds, the book focuses on the ID and behaviour of 135 species of seabird commonly seen around the coast and in the seas of the region. The text is supported with photographs (multiple images per bird where available) and distribution maps for all species. • An essential ID guide to all southern African seabird species. • Expert author, Peter Ryan – Director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute. • Outstanding photographs vividly showcase each species • Introductory text covers species, origins, feeding, breeding and conservation.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interested in Southern African seabirds.