Wednesday, November 2, 2011
1) Liddell, Judy and Barbara Hussey. Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico. 2011. Texas A&M University Press. Flexibound: 203 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: From pine forest to desert scrub, from alpine meadow to riparian wetland, Albuquerque and its surrounding area in New Mexico offer an appealing variety of wildlife habitat. Birders are likely to see more than two hundred species during a typical year of bird-watching. Now, two experienced birders, Judith Liddell and Barbara Hussey, share their intimate knowledge of the best places to find birds in and around this important region.
Covering the Rio Grande corridor, the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, Petroglyph National Monument, and the preserved areas and wetlands south of Albuquerque (including crane and waterfowl haven Bosque del Apache), Birding Hotspots of Central New Mexico offers twenty-nine geographically organized site descriptions, including maps and photographs, trail diagrams, and images of some of the birds and scenery birders will enjoy. 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 rattlesnakes, bears, and poison ivy.
The book includes a “helpful information” section that discusses weather, altitude, safety, transportation, and other local birding resources. The American Birding Association’s code of birding ethics appears in the back of the book, along with an annotated checklist of 222 bird species seen with some regularity in and around Albuquerque.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding in the region!
Buteo Books Link
2) Tattersall, Ian and Rob DeSalle. Race? Debunking A Scientific Myth. 2011. Texas A&M University Press. Hardbound: 226 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Race has provided the rationale and excuse for some of the worst atrocities in human history. Yet, according to many biologists, physical anthropologists, and geneticists, there is no valid scientific justification for the concept of race.
To be more precise, although there is clearly some physical basis for the variations that underlie perceptions of race, clear boundaries among “races” remain highly elusive from a purely biological standpoint. Differences among human populations that people intuitively view as “racial” are not only superficial but are also of astonishingly recent origin.
In this intriguing and highly accessible book, physical anthropologist Ian Tattersall and geneticist Rob DeSalle, both senior scholars from the American Museum of Natural History, explain what human races actually are—and are not—and place them within the wider perspective of natural diversity. They explain that the relative isolation of local populations of the newly evolved human species during the last Ice Age—when Homo sapiens was spreading across the world from an African point of origin—has now begun to reverse itself, as differentiated human populations come back into contact and interbreed. Indeed, the authors suggest that all of the variety seen outside of Africa seems to have both accumulated and started reintegrating within only the last 50,000 or 60,000 years—the blink of an eye, from an evolutionary perspective.
The overarching message of Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth is that scientifically speaking, there is nothing special about racial variation within the human species. These distinctions result from the working of entirely mundane evolutionary processes, such as those encountered in other organisms.
RECOMMENDATION: If you think you understand what "race" is, read this book!