Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
SUMMARY: Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones.
Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex’s feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book’s titular hero, “Brontosaurus”—who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all—as a symbol of scientific progress.)
With infectious enthusiasm, Switek questions what we’ve long held to be true about these beasts, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs, which started when he was just knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: If you liked the author's first book, Written in Stone, you'll enjoy this book.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
SUMMARY: Part of the revolutionary Crossley ID Guide series, this is the first raptor guide with lifelike scenes composed from multiple photographs--scenes that allow you to identify raptors just as the experts do. Experienced birders use the most easily observed and consistent characteristics--size, shape, behavior, probability, and general color patterns. The book's 101 scenes--including thirty-five double-page layouts--provide a complete picture of how these features are all related. Even the effects of lighting and other real-world conditions are illustrated and explained. Detailed and succinct accounts from two of North America's foremost raptor experts, Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan, stress the key identification features. This complete picture allows everyone from beginner to expert to understand and enjoy what he or she sees in the field. The mystique of bird identification is eliminated, allowing even novice birders to identify raptors quickly and simply.
Comprehensive and authoritative, the book covers all thirty-four of North America's diurnal raptor species (all species except owls). Each species is featured in stunning color plates that show males and females, in a full spectrum of ages and color variants, depicted near and far, in flight and at rest, and from multiple angles, all caught in their typical habitats. There are also comparative, multispecies scenes and mystery photographs that allow readers to test their identification skills, along with answers and full explanations in the back of the book. In addition, the book features an introduction, and thirty-four color maps accompany the plates.
Whether you are a novice or an expert, this one-of-a-kind guide will show you an entirely new way to look at these spectacular birds. This book includes:
*The most complete guide to North American raptors, written by some of the foremost experts
*The first raptor guide using Richard Crossley's acclaimed, innovative composite images that show birds as they actually appear in the field
*101 stunning color plates--including thirty-five double-page layouts--composed from thousands of photographs
*Comparative, multispecies plates and photos of mystery species that allow readers to test their growing identification skills
*Complete with introduction, 34 color maps, and detailed species accounts
RECOMMENDATION: If you liked The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds you'll like this book!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
SUMMARY: First published in 2003, Birds, Scythes and Combines provides an historical perspective to changes in farmland bird populations in Britain over the past 250 years. Despite the scale of change in habitats and agricultural methods in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, early avifaunas show that farmland birds were little affected.
Specialised species of fen and marsh were lost, often as much to persecution as habitat destruction, but farmland birds benefited from the appearance of extensive new resources which aided their adaptation to the altered habitats created by the new farming methods. In addition, many old permanent grass habitats were little altered, leaving a major reservoir of important habitats unchanged. By contrast, more modern farming methods, with changes in grassland management, in herbicide use and in harvesting methods particularly, have led to a collapse in the diversity of farmland and a consequent steep decline in the population size of a high proportion of farmland birds.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in British avian ecology.
SUMMARY: Michael Proctor, an expert in his field, discusses the development of the landscape of Britain and Ireland from prehistoric times, including the influence of people and their agricultural practices on the vegetation.
He provides a comprehensive account of all the different types of plant habitat in Britain and Ireland: from woodlands and scrubland to meadows and grasslands, from wetlands and peatlands to heaths, and from the mountain vegetation to the sea coast. He examines the history and ecology of each of these habitats, and describes the rich variety of flora found living there.
The author concludes with an account of the changes to our landscape which have taken place during the twentieth century, and prospects for the future, including the effects of environmental change.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the vegetation of the region and/or collect the New Naturalist series!
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
SUMMARY: Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves.
Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal.
RECOMMENDATION: For ages 12 and up. A readable introduction to the lives of these three primatologists.
Monday, March 25, 2013
SUMMARY: Bird watching is one of the most popular hobbies in America, and 1,001 Secrets Every Bird Watcher Should Know is the first photographic guide and fact book written in a humorous conversational tone that appeals to every age and skill level. Replete with sound information, 1,001 Secrets will expose many birding myths: a bald eagle cannot carry off a four-month old baby, and crows do not go sledding for fun.This accessible guide includes fun facts, such as where certain birds got their names, how birds eat, how they find a life partner, and how they build a home for the chicks. Other useful information includes identification tips, migration patterns, and where the best birding vacation spots are. Packed with full-color photos, 1,001 Secrets Every Bird Watcher Should Know is a fun, informative read for every bird watcher.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting collection of bird and birding trivia.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
1) Prosek, James. Trout of the World: Revised and Updated Edition. 2013. Abrams. Hardbound: 223 Pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: In the rereleased edition of Trout of the World, fans of James Prosek’s unique painting talent will revel in the addition of 30 new fish paintings and a newly penned preface. First released in 2003, Trout of the World features original watercolors of trout from around the world, ranging from the Oxus trout of eastern Afghanistan to the small golden brown trout of British chalk streams. Each unique painting is coupled with a historical profile of the fish, as well as personal reflections from the author. Prosek savors the beauty of various fishing spots, along with the fate of the species, contemplating man’s role in the extinction of animals. Both sensitive and informative, Trout of the World is a must for the library of the recreational fisherman as ichthyologist.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for all of those with an interest in trout.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
SUMMARY: The Complete Book of North American Owls offers a rare, up-close look at one of the world’s most intriguing birds, the owl. From the silent, lethal swoop of a great horned owl as it swerves between northern pines to make a kill, to the pert bobbing of a pygmy owl as it focuses on an intruder, the habits of each species are vividly described.
This book includes:
* Each species has its own extensive introduction that explains its hunting techniques, courtship rituals, nesting habits, territorial calls, and specialized traits.
* Six pages of stunning full-color images devoted to each owl capture the elusive bird in its various forms from juvenile to adult, male/female, and also in flight.
The Complete Book of North American Owls celebrates these dramatic and stealthy nocturnal hunters and showcases twenty owl species in extensive detail.
RECOMMENDATION: Some of the range maps could use some work and the taxonomy follows Konig and Weick's Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World instead of The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds. Still this book will make a good general introduction to the owls of the region.
SUMMARY: Why bird in Belize? Well, the birds of course. The spectacularly colorful are the first to grab your attention; and it is the appeal of finding another species at every turn in the trail. Belize's scenic beauty, its Mayan history, and its fascinating and elusive wildlife and the dense beautiful jungles are all reasons to visit.
This guide covers over 100 sites in detail, with directions, description including trails, conditions, vendors, and facilities such as toilets, accomodations, and exhibits; birding strategy for arranging the visit, finding birds, and optimizing time; pointer to appropriate ecoregion (Appendix A); habitat; concerns, such as safety, difficulty, and access; fees, for entrance, tours, or services; contacts, including name, address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail, website; GPS coordinates to aid in locating sites; location and directions; map(s) illustrating the directions or the site layout; and a list of key species found at the site.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding Belize!
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
SUMMARY: The only comprehensive field guide to the Chesapeake's fishes, this book is an indispensable resource for both anglers and students of the Bay. Vivid illustrations by Val Kells complement the expertise of researchers Edward O. Murdy and John A. Musick. They describe fishes that inhabit waters ranging from low-salinity estuaries to the point where the Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Key features of this field guide include:
• full-color illustrations of more than 200 species
• text that is presented adjacent to illustrations for easy reference
• detailed descriptions of physical characteristics, range, occurrence in the Bay, reproduction, diet, and statistics from fisheries research
• spot illustrations that highlight critical features of certain fish
• illustrations of juveniles when they look different from adults
• appendices that include identification keys
Formatted as a compact field guide for students, scientists, researchers, and fishermen, Field Guide to Fishes of the Chesapeake Bay should be a standard passenger on any boat that plies the Chesapeake's waters.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the fishes of the region.
2) Stewart, Amy. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks. 2013. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Hardbound: 381 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley, tequila from agave, rum from sugarcane, bourbon from corn. Thirsty yet? In The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries.
Of all the extraordinary and obscure plants that have been fermented and distilled, a few are dangerous, some are downright bizarre, and one is as ancient as dinosaurs—but each represents a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history.
This fascinating concoction of biology, chemistry, history, etymology, and mixology—with more than fifty drink recipes and growing tips for gardeners—will make you the most popular guest at any cocktail party.
RECOMMENDATION: If you like the authors' other books, you should like this one!
Monday, March 18, 2013
SUMMARY: This revised edition of California's very first dragonfly guide includes the 100 most common dragonflies of California while the out-of-print 1st CA guide covered only 78 CA species. This book includes 220 NEW, LARGE, full-color photographs of all males, smaller images of most females. Additional black & white line drawings illustrate dragonfly life cycle, etc. Also included are descriptions of males, females, habitat, flight periods and distribution, plus a checklist of ALL 113 CA species.
RECOMMENDATION: If you have an interest in California dragonflies and damselflies, you will find this guide useful.
SUMMARY: In Finland, ringing of birds was initiated 100 years ago, in 1913. Since then, almost 10.4 million birds have been ringed with more than 1.1 million later encounters. The data hosted by the Finnish Ringing Centre have been used for conservation and research purposes. Among other things, ringing provides information on migration routes, wintering areas, causes of death and site fidelity of birds.
The aim of The Finnish Ringing Atlas is to thank and motivate voluntary ringers, give research ideas for scientists and provide authorities and members of the public with information of movements of birds. This first of the two volumes gives an introduction to the history of ringing, illustrates temporal changes in numbers of birds ringed and encountered and also briefly describes other marking techniques. Species-specific part of the volume 1 includes the orders from Anseriformes to Charadriiformes (waterfowl, grouse, divers, grebes, herons, birds of prey, crakes, waders and skuas). The second volume includes the rest of species accounts and tells us, among other things, about scientific research conducted on the Finnish ringing data and about ringing at bird observatories. The Finnish Ringing Atlas has been funded by the Kone Foundation and the Ministry of Environment.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Friday, March 15, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
SUMMARY: For centuries, we’ve toyed with our creature companions, breeding dogs that herd and hunt, housecats that look like tigers, and teacup pigs that fit snugly in our handbags. But what happens when we take animal alteration a step further, engineering a cat that glows green under ultraviolet light or cloning the beloved family Labrador? Science has given us a whole new toolbox for tinkering with life. How are we using it?
In Frankenstein’s Cat, the journalist Emily Anthes takes us from petri dish to pet store as she explores how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends. As she ventures from bucolic barnyards to a “frozen zoo” where scientists are storing DNA from the planet’s most exotic creatures, she discovers how we can use cloning to protect endangered species, craft prosthetics to save injured animals, and employ genetic engineering to supply farms with disease-resistant livestock. Along the way, we meet some of the animals that are ushering in this astonishing age of enhancement, including sensor-wearing seals, cyborg beetles, a bionic bulldog, and the world’s first cloned cat.
Through her encounters with scientists, conservationists, ethicists, and entrepreneurs, Anthes reveals that while some of our interventions may be trivial (behold: the GloFish), others could improve the lives of many species—including our own. So what does biotechnology really mean for the world’s wild things? And what do our brave new beasts tell us about ourselves?
With keen insight and her trademark spunk, Anthes highlights both the peril and the promise of our scientific superpowers, taking us on an adventure into a world where our grandest science fiction fantasies are fast becoming reality.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in biotechnology.