Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Titles

1) Meisel, Ronald S. et al.. Orchids of Tropical America: An Introduction and Guide. 2014. Cornell University Press. Paperback: 260 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Orchids of Tropical America is an entertaining, informative, and splendidly illustrated introduction to the orchid family for enthusiasts and newcomers seeking to learn about more than 120 widespread orchid genera. Joe E. Meisel, Ronald S. Kaufmann, and Franco Pupulin bring alive the riot of colors, extraordinary shapes, and varied biology and ecology of the principal orchid genera ranging from Mexico and the Caribbean to Bolivia and Brazil. Orchids, likely the most diverse family of plants on earth, reach their peak diversity in the tropical countries of the Western Hemisphere, including, for example, more than 2,500 species in Brazil and 4,000 in Ecuador. The book also highlights reserves in the American tropics where travelers can enjoy orchids in the wild.
     Whether you journey abroad to see these unique plants, raise them in your home, or admire them from afar, this book offers fascinating insights into the diversity and natural history of orchids. Beyond the plant and flower descriptions, Orchids of Tropical America is packed with informative stories about the ecology and history of each genus. Pollination ecology is given in detail, with an emphasis on how floral features distinctive to the genus are linked to interaction with pollinators. This book also features information on medicinal and commercial uses, notes on the discoverers, and relevant historical data.
    The easy-to-use identification system permits quick recognition of the most common orchid groups in Central and South America. Genus descriptions are given in plain language designed for a nonscientific audience but will prove highly useful to advanced botanists as well. Descriptions focus on external morphology, and great care has been taken to ensure the guide is useful in the field without reliance on microscopes or dissections. Equally valuable as a field guide, a desktop reference, or a gift, Orchids of Tropical America will make an excellent addition to any orchid lover's library.
     Visit the website for this book at www.orchidsoftropicalamerica.com. 
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with a serious interest in the orchids of the region.

2)  Pearce-Higgins, James W. and Rhys E. Green. Birds and Climate Change: Impacts and Conservation Responses. 2014. Cambridge University Press. Paperback: 467 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the red grouse to the Ethiopian bush-crow, bird populations around the world can provide us with vital insights into the effects of climate change on species and ecosystems. They are among the best studied and monitored of organisms, yet many are already under threat of extinction as a result of habitat loss, overexploitation and pollution. Providing a single source of information for students, scientists, practitioners and policy-makers, this book begins with a critical review of the existing impacts of climate change on birds, including changes in the timing of migration and breeding and effects on bird populations around the world. The second part considers how conservationists can assess potential future impacts, quantifying how extinction risk is linked to the magnitude of global change and synthesising the evidence in support of likely conservation responses. The final chapters assess the threats posed by efforts to reduce the magnitude of climate change. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in the subject.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Title

1) Toft, Ron. National Birds of the World. 2014. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birds are one of the most popular and visible forms of all wildlife and are inextricably linked with the development of human cultures all around the world. Over the years some of the most eye-catching species of bird have been officially or unofficially adopted by countries as symbols of their national identity; there are now almost 100 national birds spanning every imaginable group from condors to parrots, trogons to frigatebirds.
     Both a comprehensive listing and guide book, National Birds provides a range of information from species data to how these birds have been used and abused through the ages. It recounts tales of how they came to be adopted and presents a wide range of official and cultural contexts where they appear from feathers in tribal costumes to stamps and currency. 
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated guide to these birds.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Titles

1) Maynard, Chris. Feathers, Form & Function. 2014. Aviva Publishing. Hardbound: 88 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Chris Maynard’s new book, Feathers, Form and Function: what feathers are, how they work, and why we find them alluring offers a quality tabletop book of his art with insight into how feathers grow, how they evolved, what they are made of, and what they do for the birds. He explores how feathers have given humans meaning for millennium.
     Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a bird in flight? What would it feel like to have feathers that could carry you anywhere you 
     In Feathers, Form, and Function, you’ll find insight into these questions and new ways of seeing through an artist, a biologist’s, a philosopher, and a bird’s eyes. With a small scalpel for a tool, artist Chris Maynard carves bird themes out of feathers. Each design highlights the feathers’ beauty and forms and calls attention to topics important to both us and the birds such as flight, lightness, and attraction. With a creative sense of design and a bit of humor, the artist offers a sense of the lives and movements of the birds he portrays. Chris Maynard is an artist, author, speaker and naturalist in the greater Seattle area. The book is available here: http://www.featherfolio.com/feathers-form-function/
RECOMMENDATION: The artwork alone is worth the price of this book!

2) Sze, Julie. Fantasy Islands: Chinese Dreams and Ecological Fears in an Age of Climate Crisis. 2015. University of California Press. Paperback: 235 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The rise of China and its status as a leading global factory are altering the way people live and consume. At the same time, the world appears wary of the real costs involved. Fantasy Islands probes Chinese, European, and American eco-desire and eco-technological dreams, and examines the solutions they offer to environmental degradation in this age of global economic change.
     Uncovering the stories of sites in China, including the plan for a new eco-city called Dongtan on the island of Chongming, mega-suburbs, and the Shanghai World Expo, Julie Sze explores the flows, fears, and fantasies of Pacific Rim politics that shaped them. She charts how climate change discussions align with US fears of China's ascendancy and the related demise of the American Century, and she considers the motives of financial and political capital for eco-city and ecological development supported by elite power structures in the UK and China. Fantasy Islands shows how ineffectual these efforts are while challenging us to see what a true eco-city would be. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in Chinese environmental problems.