Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Southern Africa Titles

The following four field guides are published by Struik Nature:

1) Apps, Peter (editor). Smithers' Mammals of Southern Africa: A Field Guide. 2000. Paperback: 364 pages. Price: $30.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: With expanded information on each species, this book will satisfy the interests of the general reader as well as the wildlife enthusiast. The book now also includes entries on the whales, dolphins and seals that can be seen along the southern African coastline. Black and white line drawings showing the relative scale of groups of similar mammals have been included to further aid identification. Dr. Peter Apps is a respected mammologist and the author of Wild Ways: A Field Guide to the Behaviour of Southern African Mammals. A second edition is in the works!

2-3) Stuart, Chris & Tilde. Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa and Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa (revised editions). 2007 and 2006 respectively. Paperbacks: 307 and 320 pages. Price: $31.00 each.
SUMMARY: Southern Africa has a wealth of mammal species, a total of 337 – all of which are covered in this fully revised comprehensive field guide. While the term ‘African mammals’ conjures up the more celebrated species of elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino, it is in fact the smaller animals – shrews, genets, suricates and bats – that comprise the bulk of the region's mammal species. And, often overlooked but included here too is the diversity of marine mammals – seals, whales and dolphins – that are found in our oceans.
     This new edition of Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa has been extensively revised to include the most recent research in line with new findings and new taxonomy. Up-to-date information, revised distribution maps and new images (where available) have been combined in a modern, full-color layout. Color-coding has been introduced according family groupings and spoor and size icons are included for quick reference with each mammal entry. Another new feature is the inclusion of skulls, grouped at the back of the book for easy comparison. In addition to detailed descriptions of each species, the text offers insight into key identification characters, typical behavior, preferred habitat, food choice and reproduction.
     Of the world's 4,000 to 4,500 mammal species, about 1,100 occur in Africa. In this updated and revised edition of Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa, authors Chris and Tilde Stuart concentrate on the more visible and easily distinguished larger mammal species, plus some of the more frequently seen smaller mammals. In all, over 400 color photographs, combined with concise, pertinent information highlighting the diagnostic features of each species, provide a comprehensive source of information on each mammal. The latest information has been incorporated and the distribution maps have been revised to reflect the most up-to-date habitat and distribution patterns for each species. A new feature is the inclusion of the mammals' skulls, grouped together at the back of the book. To aid the reader, color-coding and symbols indicating the habitat and activity period serve as a quick reference to the various mammal groups.
RECOMMENDATION: Anyone with an interest in the mammals of the region will find these guides useful.

4) Sinclair, Ian and Peter Ryan. Birds of Southern Africa: Complete Photographic Field Guide. 2009. Paperback: 432 pages. Price: $35.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: This photographic field guide to the birds of southern Africa presents more than 2,500 images showing a wide selection of age and sex plumage variations, perched and in-flight birds, and color morphs where relevant, making it the most comprehensive collection of bird photographs of the region ever produced in a single volume.
     Accompanying text focuses on identification, call, status, breeding details and diet. Also included for each species is a distribution map and a calendar bar indicating occurrence and breeding months.
RECOMMENDATION: A very useful photographic guide to the region!

5) Scholtz, Clarke H. and Erik Holm. Insects of Southern Africa. 2008. Protea Book House. Hardbound: 502 pages. Price: $115.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Southern Africa has a particularly rich and varied insect fauna, consisting of 26 orders, 579 families and about 80,000 species (currently recorded). This wealth of information on the systematics and biology of southern African insect groups has not been comprehensively treated before and is here condensed by 48 contributors, each of whom is an authority on a particular group.
     A work of this nature requires a balance between scientific accuracy and utility so that the information will be easily accessible and comprehensible to professional and amateur entomologists alike. In this work, the scientist will find enough general information to lead him or her to more detailed works while the amateur entomologist will find sufficient explanation in the text, color plates and a glossary.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in the insects of the region.

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