Thursday, September 13, 2018

New Title


1) Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey. For the Birds: American Ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice. 2018. University of Oklahoma Press. Hardbound: 300 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A first-rate ornithologist, Margaret Morse Nice (1883–1974) pioneered field studies on song sparrows and advocated for women’s active role in the sciences. Yet her nontraditional path toward scientific progress, as well as her gender, meant that she had to reach the highest pinnacles of achievement in order to gain prominence in her chosen field. Luckily for Nice, she was more than up to the challenge. In this engaging first book-length biography, Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie sheds light on Nice’s intellectual journey.
     The wife of an academic, Nice pursued her own scholarly interests through self-study and by cultivating and creating work partnerships with colleagues. Talented, ambitious, and creative, she did not define herself solely through her role as wife and mother, nor did her family responsibilities deter her from her professional achievements. From her undergraduate study at Mount Holyoke College to her fieldwork in Norman, Oklahoma, her coauthorship of Birds of Oklahoma and subsequent correspondence with George Sutton to her later years in Columbus, Ohio, Nice’s career grew in tandem with her personal life—and in some cases, because of it. Although bridled by social constraints, her work spoke for itself: she produced more than 244 papers, articles, and published letters; seven books and book-length monographs; and 3,000 reviews. This voluminous and field-defining output earned her the respect of some of the most important biological scientists of the day, among them Konrad Lorenz and Ernst Mayr, who declared that she had “almost singlehandedly” initiated “a new era in American ornithology.” 
     For the Birds gives Nice her due recognition, lending compelling insight into her activism promoting conservation and preservation, her field methods, and the role of women in the history of science, particularly in ornithology. Nice’s life acts as a looking glass into the various challenges faced by fellow female pioneers, their resolve, and their contributions.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in ornithological history and/or women in STEM.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Titles


1) Beolens, Bo. Eponym Dictionary of Odonata. 2018. Whittles Publishing. Hardbound: 460 pages. Price: $59.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Eponym Dictionary of Odonata is a comprehensive listing of all people after whom damselflies and dragonflies have been named in scientific or common names. Each entry provides details of the species and a brief biography of the person. It is also cross-referenced so that the relationships between scientific authors, entomologists and others can be followed. Many entries have been contributed by the people so honoured who are not necessarily odonatologists, entomologists, zoologists or even great men of science. Many damselflies and dragonflies are named for the author's family members, friends and those who collected the species holotypes, while others are figures from myth or history. In fact, it could be anything from the author's mother to a favourite musician! Because entries may include details of dates, places, educational and work institutions, it is possible to discover information about each person and for a picture to be built of how the science sometimes follows groupings of colleagues or those significantly influenced by charismatic teachers. 
     The Dictionary includes other names which might, at a glance, be thought to be eponyms yet are not in the truest sense. These may be species named after characteristics embodied in characters from literature, whole peoples, acronyms or toponyms, etc. To some extent it can read like a canon of the great women and men of science over the last several centuries. Interestingly there are species named after as many as three generations of the same family, veiled references to old lovers, sycophantic homage, financial patronage, etc., as well as all the more `legitimate' reasons for naming species. Not surprisingly, odonatologists exhibit a range of opinion on the practice, from naming all species after people, to wanting all eponyms banned; they can be totally humourless and pedantic or full of fun and irreverence. Like all of us they have as many reasons for their namings as ordinary folk have for naming their children or pets! Underlying all this, however, is the value of this volume in cataloguing this fascinating aspect of science for all users, whether scientists or interested lay readers.
RECOMMENDATION: If you have the author's other eponym dictionaries, you will want this one too!



2) Holland, Phil. Common & Spotted Sandpipers. 2018. Whittles Publishing. Paperback: 168 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This wonderful book describes the fascinating lives of the two most ubiquitous shorebirds in the world. Between them the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) and Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) make use of a large part of the world's terrestrial habitat and they exhibit many of the exciting features of shorebirds.
      As the birds arrive on the breeding ground, their displays are spectacular and their sounds are an exciting announcement of springtime. Unusually, the Spotted Sandpiper appears to be the only bird where the female is the territory holder, laying successive clutches of eggs for different males to care for, while the male of the Common Sandpiper holds the territory, has one mate, and shares most duties.
     They stay on the breeding grounds only as long as is essential to reproduce before making a migration southwards to a broad range of non-breeding homes in Central and South America, Africa, India, and eastwards to Australia with vagrants reaching as far as Tristan da Cunha and New Zealand. The Common Sandpiper has also been recorded breeding in East Africa and wintering in Scotland so their flexibility is amazing.
     The author has spent over 40 years studying the lives of these fantastic birds and provides a wealth of information including their breeding behaviour, migrations, distribution, food sources, habitats and their history from the present back to 36 million years ago.
     This beautiful book will hopefully stimulate others to watch these worldwide birds more appreciatively and add to our knowledge.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in either of these species.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

New Titles


1) Castelló, José R.. Canids of the World: Wolves, Wild Dogs, Foxes, Jackals, Coyotes, and Their Relatives. 2018. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 331 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This stunningly illustrated and easy-to-use field guide covers every species of the world’s canids, from the Gray Wolf of North America to the dholes of Asia, from African jackals to the South American Bush Dog. It features more than 150 superb color plates depicting every kind of canid and detailed facing-page species accounts that describe key identification features, morphology, distribution, subspeciation, habitat, and conservation status in the wild. The book also includes distribution maps and tips on where to observe each species, making Canids of the World the most comprehensive and user-friendly guide to these intriguing and spectacular mammals.
  • Covers every species and subspecies of canid
  • Features more than 150 color plates with more than 600 photos from around the globe
  • Depicts species in similar poses for quick and easy comparisons
  • Describes key identification features, habitat, behavior, reproduction, and much more
  • Draws on the latest taxonomic research
  • Includes distribution maps and tips on where to observe each species
  • The ideal field companion and a delight for armchair naturalists
 RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all wild canid fans!


2) Morrison, Michael L. et al. (editors). Ornithology: Foundation, Analysis, and Application. 2018. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 1004 pages. Price: $110.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Aves, the birds, is the wildlife group that people most frequently encounter. With over 10,000 species worldwide, these animals are part of our everyday experience. They are also the focus of intense research, and their management and conservation is a subject of considerable effort throughout the world. But what are the defining attributes that make a bird a bird?
     Aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, Ornithology provides a solid modern foundation for understanding the life and development of birds. Written by renowned experts from around the globe, this comprehensive textbook draws on the latest research to create an innovative learning experience. Moving beyond bones, muscle, and feathers, it provides the core information needed to "build" the bird, linking anatomy and physiology with ecology and behavior.
     As it reviews the major orders of birds, the book highlights their wide diversity and critically evaluates ornithological concepts and theories. Incorporating brief biographies of leaders in the field, the text describes their contributions in the context of key historical events in bird science. Each chapter ends with a summary of the material covered, a discussion of potential management and conservation applications, and suggested study questions that will stimulate thought and discussion.
RECOMMENDATION: The best college textbook on ornithology that's currently available.





Thursday, September 6, 2018

New Titles


1) Colwell, Mary. Curlew Moon. 2018. William Collins. Hardbound: 328 pages. Price: $27.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY:  Eurasian Curlews are Britain’s largest wading bird, known for their evocative calls which embody wild places; they provoke a range of emotions that many have expressed in poetry, art and music.
     Over the last 20 years numbers in the UK have halved; the Eurasian Curlew is one of our most endangered birds. With a quarter of the world population breeding in the UK and Ireland, this is nothing short of a disaster. The curlew is showing all the signs of being the next Great Auk.
     In Curlew Moon, Mary Colwell takes us on a 500-mile journey on foot from the west coast of Ireland to the east coast of England, to discover what is happening to this beautiful and much-loved bird. She sets off in early spring when the birds are arriving on their breeding grounds, watches them nesting in the hills of Wales and walks through England when the young are hatching. She finishes her walk on the coast of Lincolnshire when the fledglings are trying out their wings. This is also the place many curlews will return to for the winter months.
     This evocative book chronicles Colwell’s impressive journey, with beautiful illustrations by Jessica Holm, weaving a gentle tale of discovery interspersed with the natural history of this iconic bird that has fascinated us for millennia – and so desperately needs our help.
RECOMMENDATION: If you have an interest in curlews, you should like this book.



2) Morris, Pat. Hedgehog. 2018. William Collins. Paperback: 404 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In recent years the hedgehog has ousted the badger, dolphin and red squirrel from heading the list of the most popular British animals. It is now regularly voted Britain’s favourite, and yet we know surprisingly little about the life of this, our only spiny mammal. Much of what we think we know is based on only a small number of studies, but with the hedgehog gaining in public prominence, support from key charities has enabled a significant enhancement in research activity that continues to illuminate the life of this very special prickly animal.
     Hedgehogs have had a long association with humans, extending back to Ancient Egypt and beyond. Strong public support makes it an ideal flagship species for encouraging public acceptance of nature conservation principles, particularly in the urban environment. In a worrying development, after surviving for millions of years and outlasting mammoths and sabre-toothed cats, the hedgehog population now appears to be in serious decline. In our modern world, its plight appears to be worsening, due to the loss and fragmentation of habitats in Britain’s towns and countryside. The insidious effects of pesticides and the intensification of farming result in habitats that offer little support in the way of suitable foraging or nesting sites. There are also many deaths on the roads.
     In this timely addition to the New Naturalist Library, Pat Morris provides the first fully comprehensive overview of the hedgehog’s life, including hibernation, behaviour and numbers, also its relationship with people from being a statutory pest to become a protected and cherished friend. Ideas are offered for conservation efforts and public participation crucial to the survival of this iconic creature.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have if you have an interest in hedgehogs and/or collect the New Naturalist series.