Monday, July 30, 2012

New Titles

1) McNab, Brian K.. Extreme Measures: The Ecological Energetics of Birds and Mammals. 2012. University of Chicago Press. Paperback: 312 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: Along with reproduction, balancing energy expenditure with the limits of resource acquisition is essential for both a species and a population to survive. But energy is a limited resource, as we know well, so birds and mammals—the most energy-intensive fauna on the planet—must reduce energy expenditures to maintain this balance, some taking small steps, and others extreme measures.
     Here Brian K. McNab draws on his over sixty years in the field to provide a comprehensive account of the energetics of birds and mammals, one fully integrated with their natural history. McNab begins with an overview of thermal rates—much of our own energy is spent maintaining our 98.6?F temperature—and explains how the basal rate of metabolism drives energy use, especially in extreme environments. He then explores those variables that interact with the basal rate of metabolism, like body size and scale and environments, highlighting their influence on behavior, distribution, and even reproductive output. Successive chapters take up energy and population dynamics and evolution. A critical central theme that runs through the book is how the energetic needs of birds and mammals come up against rapid environmental change and how this is hastening the pace of extinction.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in animal physiology.

2) Patterson, Bruce D. and Leonora P. Costa (editors). Bones, Clones, and Biomes: The History and Geography of Recent Neotropical Mammals. 2012. University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 419 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: As explorers and scientists have known for decades, the Neotropics harbor a fantastic array of our planet’s mammalian diversity, from capybaras and capuchins to maned wolves and mouse opossums to sloths and sakis. This biological bounty can be attributed partly to the striking diversity of Neotropical landscapes and climates and partly to a series of continental connections that permitted intermittent faunal exchanges with Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and North America. Thus, to comprehend the development of modern Neotropical mammal faunas requires not only mastery of the Neotropics’ substantial diversity, but also knowledge of mammalian lineages and landscapes dating back to the Mesozoic.
     Bones, Clones, and Biomes offers just that—an exploration of the development and relationships of the modern mammal fauna through a series of studies that encompass the last 100 million years and both Central and South America. This work serves as a complement to more taxonomically driven works, providing for readers the long geologic and biogeographic contexts that undergird the abundance and diversity of Neotropical mammals. Rather than documenting diversity or distribution, this collection traverses the patterns that the distributions and relationships across mammal species convey, bringing together for the first time geology, paleobiology, systematics, mammalogy, and biogeography. Of critical importance is the book’s utility for current conservation and management programs, part of a rapidly rising conservation paleobiology initiative.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in mammalian biogeography.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                   Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Forthcoming Title

Here are sample pages from the forthcoming Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide (due out in August in the U.K.,U.S.A. & Canada):

New Title

1) Mattison, Chris and Nick Garbutt. Chameleons. 2012. Firefly Books. Hardbound: 112 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: With flattened bodies, opposed feet, independently swiveling eyes, a prehensile tail, and the ability to change color, chameleons are both fascinating and charismatic. Chameleons is the first popular authoritative guide to this extraordinary animal group.
    This fully illustrated book begins by exploring chameleon evolution and classification, describing how they fit into life's evolutionary tree and revealing their close relations.
     Covering all of the 192 species of chameleon, the book reveals:

*Species variation in size, shape, color and markings
*Why chameleons look like they do
*Reproduction and development
*Food and feeding
*Habitat and distribution
*Defense against predators
*Chameleons and humans, mythology, superstition
*Worldwide conservation efforts
*Keeping chameleons as pets, care and breeding in captivity.

     Drawing on their vast experience, the authors provide an illuminating insight into the lives of these unusual animals. As the first authoritative guide to chameleons written for the lay reader, this will be a popular choice for dedicated owners of pet chameleons.
RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to chameleons.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Titles

1) Buonomano, Dean. Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives. 2011 (2012). W.W. Norton. Paperback: 310 pages. Price: $16.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: The human brain may be the best piece of technology ever created, but it’s far from perfect. Drawing on colorful examples and surprising research, neuroscientist Dean Buonomano exposes the blind spots and weaknesses that beset our brains and lead us to make misguided personal, professional, and financial decisions. Whether explaining why we are susceptible to advertisements or demonstrating how false memories are formed, Brain Bugs not only explains the brain’s inherent flaws but also gives us the tools to counteract them.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in neuroscience.

2) Kazenas, V.L. and V.A. Kastcheev. Insects of Kazakhstan: A Photographic Atlas. 2012. Siri Scientific Press. Paperback: 232 pages. Price: GBP 40.00 (about $62.74 U.S.).
SUMMARY: The Republic of Kazakhstan is located in the Northern Hemisphere on the boundary of the two continents of Europe and Asia, and with a total area of approximately 2.7 million square kilometres, represents the largest land-locked country and the ninth largest country in the world. It shares borders with Russia to the north-west, north and east; the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan to the south; China to the south-east and the Caspian Sea to the west. Because of its transcontinental geography and the great variety of natural habitats and climatic features prevailing throughout most of the Republic, it is home to a high diversity of different insect species, many of which can be expected to be of scientific interest from a zoogeographical perspective, for example the many endemic and relict species. However, most of Kazakhstan's insects have been poorly studied.
     This book will form the basis for resolving this dearth of knowledge and appreciation for one of the most diverse and fascinating groups on the planet, particularly within the geographical context of its coverage. This atlas contains pictures of insects in Kazakhstan from various taxonomic groups. For most of them the correct scientific name is provided, in addition to the family in which it belongs. The authors, who are both professional entomologists in Kazakhstan, provide a comprehensive overview of the rich and peculiar insect fauna that occurs there and illustrate the most common and larger insects that will be immediately apparent to experienced nature watchers, and those which are most likely to be seen by amateur entomologists, students and tourists visiting the country. In total, more than 1000 species are photo-documented, in many cases for the first time. Please note that there are no distribution maps included in this book.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction to the insects of Kazakhstan.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                 Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman 

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


1) Erritzoe, Johannes, Clive F. Mann, Frederik P. Brammer and Richard A. Fuller. Cuckoos of the World. 2012. Helm/Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 544 pages. Price: GBP 60.00 (about $94.00 U.S.).

SUMMARY: This authoritative handbook, part of the Helm Identification Guides series, looks in detail at the world's cuckoos, couas and coucals - the family Cuculidae. Famed as brood-parasites of other birds, the cuckoos include a diverse range of species, from the roadrunners of North America to the spectacular malkohas of southern Asia. This book discusses the biology and identification of these birds on a species-by-species basis, bringing together the very latest research with accurate range maps, more than 600 stunning colour photographs that illuminate age and racial plumage differences, and 36 superb plates by a team of internationally renowned artists.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for people with an interest in cuckoos and related birds. People that collect bird family monographs will want it also!

New Title

1) Cameron, Matt. Parrots: The Animal Answer Guide. 2012. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 237 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Have you ever wondered what parrots eat in the wild? Or why so many species live in the Amazon? How intelligent are parrots? What is the world's rarest parrot? Parrots: The Animal Answer Guide provides detailed, factual answers to the ninety questions most on our minds.
     There are more than 350 species of these colorful callers, ranging in size from the diminutive lovebird to the massive macaw. Many species can live to be octogenarians in captivity—sometimes outliving their human caretakers by decades.
     The beautiful plumage of parrots and the ability to mimic sounds are both a blessing and a curse. A number of species are in danger of extinction because they are captured and sold into the pet trade by unscrupulous dealers. Fortunately, most parrot owners and retailers rely on captive breeding, although an appalling amount of wild collection continues.
     In addition to discussing parrot behavior and biology, Matt Cameron reveals the truth about the trade in wild parrots and explains what each of us can do to help save native populations. Whether you are a parrot owner, birder, ornithologist, or curious naturalist, you will find that Cameron asks and fully answers every question you have about these incredible birds.
RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to the biology of parrots.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Title

1) Craig, Matthew T., Yvonne J. Sadovy de Mitcheson and Phillip C. Heemstra. Groupers of the World: A Field and Market Guide. 2012. CRC Press. Hardbound: 404 pages. Price: $79.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: Groupers of the World is a detailed but easy-to-use guide to the more than 160 recognized species, of these mostly large, colorful tropical reef fishes, also known as rockcod. Together with outstanding, full color photographs of these remarkable and important fishes, Groupers of the World has up-to-date biological, ecological and population information for each species. Groupers of the World: a Field and Market Guide is an indispensable publication for fisheries scientists and managers as well as divers, anglers, and those with an interest in reef fishes in general.
     This book features:

*Includes approximately 175 detailed line drawings of each species and more than 350 color photographs depicting the living fish in their natural habitat as well as dead specimens, mostly photographed in markets
*Shows distinctive color differences between adults and juveniles, as well as regional color variations
*Provides clear descriptions to allow for reliable identification of any of the species, even by those unfamiliar with groupers
*Contains more than 150 individual color maps and descriptions summarize the known distribution of each of the groupers
*Serves as a valuable entry point for further research with almost 1000 references

RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in Groupers or reef fishes in general!

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Title

1) Johnson, Kristin. Ordering Life: Karl Jordan and the Naturalist Tradition. 2012. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 376 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: For centuries naturalists have endeavored to name, order, and explain biological diversity. Karl Jordan (1861–1959) dedicated his long life to this effort, describing thousands of new species in the process. Ordering Life explores the career of this prominent figure as he worked to ensure a continued role for natural history museums and the field of taxonomy in the rapidly changing world of twentieth-century science.
     Jordan made an effort to both practice good taxonomy and secure status and patronage in a world that would soon be transformed by wars and economic and political upheaval. Kristin Johnson traces his response to these changes and shows that creating scientific knowledge about the natural world depends on much more than just good method or robust theory. The broader social context in which scientists work is just as important to the project of naming, describing, classifying, and, ultimately, explaining life.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the history of natural history.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                  Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Title

1) Parker, Tom. Dodo Destiny: An American Eye on Mauritius. 2012. Raconteurs Press. Paperback: 197 pages. Price: $14.95 U.S.

SUMMARY: The dodo is a universal symbol of extinction, yet little is known about the true nature of this vanished bird. Most people don’t know that the dodo lived only on Mauritius, a beautiful tropical island nation east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
     Left undisturbed by humans, Mauritius and the dodo thrived until Europeans arrived in 1598. Less than 100 years later, the dodo and other island species disappeared in the wake of man. The dodo will never come back yet Mauritius and nearby islands are forging a new path in co-existence with not only man and the environment, but among religions and different races.
     The dodo was just one of many unusual extinct species endemic to Mauritius and other islands in the Mascarene archipelago. Paradoxically, the site of history’s most famous extinction is today home to some of the world’s most successful conservation programs created to preserve remaining threatened species.
     Tom Parker's fascination with Mauritius began by chance during a layover on a global trek. He returned multiple times to extensively explore Mauritius and Rodrigues Island as well as the neighboring French island of La Réunion, discovering dramatic tales about the spice trade, marooned rebels, waves of immigrants from Europe and Asia, and remarkable natural history. Long familiar to European visitors, these islands remain relatively unknown to most North Americans.
RECOMMENDATION: For world travelers and natural history buffs.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Titles

1) Fuentes, Agustin. Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature. 2012. University of California Press. Hardbound: 274 pages. Price: $27.50 U.S.

SUMMARY: There are three major myths of human nature: humans are divided into biological races; humans are naturally aggressive; men and women are truly different in behavior, desires, and wiring. In an engaging and wide-ranging narrative Agustín Fuentes counters these pervasive and pernicious myths about human behavior. Tackling misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans, Fuentes incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics, and evolution requiring us to dispose of notions of “nature or nurture.” Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy and differences between the sexes. A final chapter plus an appendix provide a set of take-home points on how readers can myth-bust on their own. Accessible, compelling, and original, this book is a rich and nuanced account of how nature, culture, experience, and choice interact to influence human behavior.
RECOMMENDATION: The author writes: "Being human is messy". If you want to become less messed up, I think you'll want to read this book!

2) Ribic, Christine A., Frank R. Thompson III, and Pamela J. Pietz (editors). Video Surveillance of Nesting Birds (Studies in Avian Biology, 43). 2012. University pf California Press. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Declining bird populations, especially those that breed in North American grasslands, have stimulated extensive research on factors that affect nest failure and reduced reproductive success. Until now, this research has been hampered by the difficulties inherent in observing nest activities. Video Surveillance of Nesting Birds highlights the use of miniature video cameras and recording equipment yielding new important and some unanticipated insights into breeding bird biology, including previously undocumented observations of hatching, incubation, fledging, diurnal and nocturnal activity patterns, predator identification, predator-prey interactions, and cause-specific rates of nest loss. This seminal contribution to bird reproductive biology uses tools capable of generating astonishing results with the potential for fresh insights into bird conservation, management, and theory.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest on the subject.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Titles

1) Harris, Mike P. and Sarah Wanless. The Puffin. 2012. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: $80.00 U.S.

SUMMARY: At sea for most of the year and preferring remote offshore islands for its breeding habitat, the Atlantic Puffin has lived a life largely hidden from human observation. But now, thanks to persistent study by seabird scientists and exciting new research methods, many of the puffin's secrets can be told. This thorough and charmingly illustrated book reveals in detail the puffin's life history, behavior, ecology, population dynamics, and future prospects.
     Eminent seabird ecologists Mike P. Harris and Sarah Wanless create the most complete and up-to-date portrait of puffins ever published. Of particular interest are their recent insights into puffins' winter whereabouts and activities while at sea, made possible by miniature, bird-borne tracking devices that provide unprecedented records of bird activity.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the Atlantic Puffin!

2) Raff, Rudolf A.. Once We All Had Gills: Growing Up Evolutionist in an Evolving World. 2012. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 329 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: In this book, Rudolf A. Raff reaches out to the scientifically queasy, using his life story and his growth as a scientist to illustrate why science matters, especially at a time when many Americans are both suspicious of science and hostile to scientific ways of thinking. Noting that science has too often been the object of controversy in school curriculums and debates on public policy issues ranging from energy and conservation to stem-cell research and climate change, Raff argues that when the public is confused or ill-informed, these issues tend to be decided on religious, economic, and political grounds that disregard the realities of the natural world. Speaking up for science and scientific literacy, Raff tells how and why he became an evolutionary biologist and describes some of the vibrant and living science of evolution.
     Once We All Had Gills is also the story of evolution writ large: its history, how it is studied, what it means, and why it has become a useful target in a cultural war against rational thought and the idea of a secular, religiously tolerant nation.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the role that science (especially evolution) can/should play in our society.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                   Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman
My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Four New Titles

The following titles were published by Indiana University Press:

1) Brett-Surman, M.K., Thomas R. Holtz, Jr, and James O. Farlow (editors). The Complete Dinosaur (Second Edition). 2012. Hardbound: 1112 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: What do we know about dinosaurs, and how do we know it? How did dinosaurs grow, move, eat, and reproduce? Were they warm-blooded or cold-blooded? How intelligent were they? How are the various groups of dinosaurs related to each other, and to other kinds of living and extinct vertebrates? What can the study of dinosaurs tell us about the process of evolution? And why did typical dinosaurs become extinct? All of these questions, and more, are addressed in the new, expanded, second edition of The Complete Dinosaur. Written by many of the world's leading experts on the "fearfully great" reptiles, the book’s 45 chapters cover what we have learned about dinosaurs, from the earliest discoveries of dinosaurs to the most recent controversies. Where scientific contention exists, the editors have let the experts agree to disagree. Copiously illustrated and accessible to all readers from the enthusiastic amateur to the most learned professional paleontologist, The Complete Dinosaur is a feast for serious dinosaur lovers everywhere.

2) Clack, Jennifer A.. Gaining Ground: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods (Second Edition). 2012. Hardbound: 523 pages. Price: $59.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Around 370 million years ago, a distant relative of a modern lungfish began a most extraordinary adventure—emerging from the water and laying claim to the land. Over the next 70 million years, this tentative beachhead had developed into a worldwide colonization by ever-increasing varieties of four-limbed creatures known as tetrapods, the ancestors of all vertebrate life on land. This new edition of Jennifer A. Clack's groundbreaking book tells the complex story of their emergence and evolution. Beginning with their closest relatives, the lobe-fin fishes such as lungfishes and coelacanths, Clack defines what a tetrapod is, describes their anatomy, and explains how they are related to other vertebrates. She looks at the Devonian environment in which they evolved, describes the known and newly discovered species, and explores the order and timing of anatomical changes that occurred during the fish-to-tetrapod transition.

3) Gangloff, Roland A.. Dinosaurs under the Aurora. 2012. Hardbound: 176 pages. Price: $40.00.
SUMMARY: In 1961, while mapping rock exposures along the Colville River in Alaska, an oil company geologist would unknowingly find the evidence for a startling discovery. Long before the North Slope of Alaska was being exploited for its petroleum resources it was a place where dinosaurs roamed. Dinosaurs under the Aurora immerses readers in the challenges, stark beauty, and hard-earned rewards of conducting paleontological field work in the Arctic. Roland A. Gangloff recounts the significant discoveries of field and museum research on Arctic dinosaurs, most notably of the last 25 years when the remarkable record of dinosaurs from Alaska was compiled. This research has changed the way we think about dinosaurs and their world. Examining long-standing controversies, such as the end-Cretaceous extinction of dinosaurs and whether dinosaurs were residents or just seasonal visitors to polar latitudes, Gangloff takes readers on a delightful and instructive journey into the world of paleontology as it is conducted in the land under the aurora.

4) Godefroit, Pascal (editor). Bernissart Dinosaurs and Early Cretaceous Terrestrial Ecosystems. 2012. Hardbound: 629 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: In 1878, the first complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered in a coal mine in Bernissart, Belgium. Iguanodon, first described by Gideon Mantell on the basis of fragments discovered in England in 1824, was initially reconstructed as an iguana-like reptile or a heavily built, horned quadruped. However, the Bernissart skeleton changed all that. The animal was displayed in an upright posture similar to a kangaroo, and later with its tail off the ground like the dinosaur we know of today. Focusing on the Bernissant discoveries, this book presents the latest research on Iguanodon and other denizens of the Cretaceous ecosystems of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Pascal Godefroit and contributors consider the Bernissart locality itself and the new research programs that are underway there. The book also presents a systematic revision of Iguanodon; new material from Spain, Romania, China, and Kazakhstan; studies of other Early Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems; and examinations of Cretaceous vertebrate faunas.
RECOMMENDATION: Of the four above titles, I like The Complete Dinosaur the best!

Sunday, July 1, 2012