Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New Title

1) Balcombe, Jonathan. What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins. 2016.  Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardbound: 288 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes. Although there are more than thirty thousand species of fish―more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined―we rarely consider how individual fishes think, feel, and behave. Balcombe upends our assumptions about fishes, portraying them not as unfeeling, dead-eyed feeding machines but as sentient, aware, social, and even Machiavellian―in other words, much like us.
      What a Fish Knows draws on the latest science to present a fresh look at these remarkable creatures in all their breathtaking diversity and beauty. Fishes conduct elaborate courtship rituals and develop lifelong bonds with shoalmates. They also plan, hunt cooperatively, use tools, curry favor, deceive one another, and punish wrongdoers. We may imagine that fishes lead simple, fleeting lives―a mode of existence that boils down to a place on the food chain, rote spawning, and lots of aimless swimming. But, as Balcombe demonstrates, the truth is far richer and more complex, worthy of the grandest social novel.
Highlighting breakthrough discoveries from fish enthusiasts and scientists around the world and pondering his own encounters with fishes, Balcombe examines the fascinating means by which fishes gain knowledge of the places they inhabit, from shallow tide pools to the deepest reaches of the ocean.
      Teeming with insights and exciting discoveries, What a Fish Knows offers a thoughtful appraisal of our relationships with fishes and inspires us to take a more enlightened view of the planet’s increasingly imperiled marine life. What a Fish Knows will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins―the pet goldfish included.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in fish behavior.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

New Title

1) Flores, Dan. Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History. 2016. Basic Books. Hardbound: 271 pages. Price: $27.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: With its uncanny night howls, unrivaled ingenuity, and amazing resilience, the coyote is the stuff of legends. In Indian folktales it often appears as a deceptive trickster or a sly genius. But legends don’t come close to capturing the incredible survival story of the coyote. As soon as Americans—especially white Americans—began ranching and herding in the West, they began working to destroy the coyote. Despite campaigns of annihilation employing poisons, gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn’t just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York’s Central Park. In the war between humans and coyotes, coyotes have won hands-down. 
     Coyote America is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the coyote. It traces both the five-million-year-long biological story of an animal that has become the “wolf” in our backyards, as well as its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse, with a pioneering hero whose career holds up an uncanny mirror to the successes and failures of American expansionism.
     An illuminating biography of this extraordinary animal, Coyote America isn’t just the story of an animal’s survival—it is one of the great epics of our time.
 RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in the species.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Title

1) Castelló, José R.. Bovids of the World: Antelopes, Gazelles, Cattle, Goats, Sheep, and Relatives. 2016. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 664 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Bovids are a diverse group of ruminant mammals that have hooves and unbranched hollow horns. Bovids of the World is the first comprehensive field guide to cover all 279 bovid species, including antelopes, gazelles, cattle, buffaloes, sheep, and goats. From the hartebeest of Africa and the takin of Asia to the muskox of North America, bovids are among the world's most spectacular animals and this stunningly illustrated and easy-to-use field guide is an ideal way to learn more about them.
     The guide covers all species and subspecies of bovids described to date. It features more than 300 superb full-color plates depicting every kind of bovid, as well as detailed facing-page species accounts that describe key identification features, horn morphology, distribution, subspeciation, habitat, and conservation status in the wild. This book also shows where to observe each species and includes helpful distribution maps.
     Suitable for anyone with an interest in natural history, Bovids of the World is a remarkable and attractive reference, showcasing the range and beauty of these important mammals.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in these mammals!

Monday, May 23, 2016

New Title

1) Paulson, Dennis et al.. Birds of the Puget Sound Region Coast to Cascades. 2016. R.W. Morse Company. Paperback: 446 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Designed for beginning and experienced birders, this new edition expands the regional guide to include western Washington (from the Coast to the Cascades). All the photographs are state of the art digital images. Each text account includes Descriptions, Similar Species, Status and Habitat, Behavior and Voice. Written by Dennis Paulson, the well respected ornithologist in the region. Pocket sized for easy traveling.
RECOMMENDATION: The best beginning birder guide for the region!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

New Title

1) Fox, Caroline. At Sea With the Marine Birds of the Raincoast. 2016. Rocky Mountain Books. Paperback: 272 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: At Sea With the Marine Birds of the Raincoast combines the natural and human histories of Pacific Northwest marine birds with Caroline Fox’s personal story of her life as a conservation scientist. Accompanied by vivid images, drawings and both archival and modern photography, the narrative follows the author as she sails the coast, documenting marine bird diversity and seasonal shifts in community assemblages.
     This unique story captures the natural splendor and rich variety of marine birds feeding, breeding and undertaking spectacular, often trans-equatorial migrations along the Northwest Coast. Introducing some of the most fascinating yet poorly understood species, including albatrosses, puffins and cranes, this compelling read calls attention to the urgent conservation challenges faced by marine birds and their ecosystems, as well as their historically complex relationship with human society.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the marine birds of British Columbia, Canada.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New Title

1) Kiver, Eugene, Chad Pritchard, and Richard Orndorff. Washington Rocks! 2016. Mountain Press. Paperback: 131 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY:  Active volcanoes, like Rainier and Baker, dominate Washington s western half, and Columbia flood basalt covers much of the eastern half, but scattered here and there are other equally amazing rocks and features that make the Evergreen State one of the most geologically interesting places in the entire country. With this book as your guide, you can find limestone caves, billion-year-old gneiss, glacial moraines, petrified forests, fossilized palm leaves, upside-down sandstone beds, and ancient landslides. Or you can explore the mind-boggling canyons, waterfalls, and scabland carved by the torrential Missoula Floods, check out the glacially carved granite of the North Cascades, or watch sea stacks erode in the pounding surf of the Pacific Ocean.
     Washington Rocks! is part of the state-by-state Geology Rocks! series that introduces readers to some of the most compelling and accessible geologic sites in each state. The 57 sites in this book are scattered throughout the state, from Steptoe Butte in the southeast, the namesake of the steptoe geologic feature, to trilobite-bearing limestone in Box Canyon in the northeast, and from glacial gouges on Iceberg Point in the San Juan Islands to ghost forests in Willapa Bay, trees killed during the last great earthquake. Colorful photographs and instructive diagrams make this book a must-have for rockhounds, students, tourists, and residents alike.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the geology of Washington State.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Title

1) Birkhead, Tim. The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird's Egg. 2016. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 288 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Renowned ornithologist Tim Birkhead opens this gripping story as a female guillemot chick hatches, already carrying her full quota of tiny eggs within her undeveloped ovary. As she grows into adulthood, only a few of her eggs mature, are released into the oviduct, and are fertilized by sperm stored from copulation that took place days or weeks earlier. Within a matter of hours, the fragile yolk is surrounded by albumen and the whole is gradually encased within a turquoise jewel of a shell. Soon afterward the fully formed egg is expelled onto a bare rocky ledge, where it will be incubated for four weeks before another chick emerges and the life cycle begins again.  
     The Most Perfect Thing is about how eggs in general are made, fertilized, developed, and hatched. The eggs of most birds spend just 24 hours in the oviduct; however, that journey takes 48 hours in cuckoos, which surreptitiously lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. From the earliest times, the study of birds' ovaries and ova (eggs) played a vital role in the quest to unravel the mysteries of fertilization and embryo development in humans. Birkhead uses birds' eggs as wondrous portals into natural history, enlivened by the stories of naturalists and scientists, including Birkhead and his students, whose discoveries have advanced current scientific knowledge of reproduction.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's other books, you should enjoy this one.

Monday, May 9, 2016

New Titles

1) Hibbitts, Troy D. and  Terry L. Hibbitts. Texas Turtles & Crocodilians: A Field Guide. 2016. University of Texas Press. Paperback: 257 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Texas has a large and diverse turtle population, with forms that are found nowhere else (Cagle’s Map Turtle and the Texas Map Turtle) and wide-ranging species that barely touch the state, including the Painted Turtles and the Rough-footed Mud Turtle. From the Sabine River to El Paso, and from the Rio Grande to the Panhandle, thirty-one native and established exotic turtle species are definitely known in Texas, along with one crocodilian, the American Alligator.
    Texas Turtles & Crocodilians is the first complete identification guide to all the state’s turtles and to its single alligator. It offers detailed species accounts, range maps, and excellent color photographs to aid in field identification. The authors, two of the state’s most knowledgeable herpetologists, open the book with a broad overview of turtle natural history, conservation biology, observation, and captive maintenance before providing a key to Texas turtles and accounts of the various turtle families and species. Appendices provide brief accounts of species that occurred prehistorically in Texas and non-established exotic species, as well as a table of Texas’ major watersheds and the turtle diversity in each one. Informational resources on Texas turtles and alligators, a map of Texas counties, a glossary, a bibliography, and indexes of common and scientific names complete the volume.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in Texan turtles and the American Alligator. 

2) Levin, Ted. America's Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake. 2016. The University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 481 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: There’s no sound quite like it, or as viscerally terrifying: the ominous rattle of the timber rattlesnake. It’s a chilling shorthand for imminent danger, and a reminder of the countless ways that nature can suddenly snuff us out.
      Yet most of us have never seen a timber rattler. Though they’re found in thirty-one states, and near many major cities, in contemporary America timber rattlesnakes are creatures mostly of imagination and innate fear.
       Ted Levin aims to change that with America’s Snake, a portrait of the timber rattlesnake, its place in America’s pantheon of creatures and in our own frontier history—and of the heroic efforts to protect it against habitat loss, climate change, and the human tendency to kill what we fear. Taking us from labs where the secrets of the snake’s evolutionary history are being unlocked to far-flung habitats whose locations are fiercely protected by biologists and dedicated amateur herpetologists alike, Levin paints a picture of a fascinating creature: peaceable, social, long-lived, and, despite our phobias, not inclined to bite. The timber rattler emerges here as emblematic of America and also, unfortunately, of the complicated, painful struggles involved in protecting and preserving the natural world.
      A wonderful mix of natural history, travel writing, and exemplary journalism, America’s Snake is loaded with remarkable characters—none more so than the snake at its heart: frightening, perhaps; endangered, certainly; and unquestionably unforgettable.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have if you're interested in this species!

3) Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Gene: An Intimate History. 2016. Scribner. Hardbound: 592 pages. Price: $32.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?
     The extraordinary Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
      Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family—with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness—cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.
      As The New Yorker said of The Emperor of All Maladies, “It’s hard to think of many books for a general audience that have rendered any area of modern science and technology with such intelligence, accessibility, and compassion…An extraordinary achievement.” Riveting, revelatory, and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, and an essential preparation for the moral complexity introduced by our ability to create or “write” the human genome, The Gene is a must-read for everyone concerned about the definition and future of humanity. This is the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's The Emperor of All Maladies you should enjoy this book.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

New Title

1) Shunk, Stephen. Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 298 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the iconic Woody Woodpecker to the ubiquitous Northern Flicker, woodpeckers have long captivated our attention. Their astonishing anatomy makes them one of the most specialized bird families in the world, and their keystone ecological roles in our forests and woodlands makes them some of the most important birds on the continent.
      This comprehensive and authoritative guide to the natural history, ecology, and conservation of North America’s 23 woodpecker species goes far beyond identification. It explores their unique anatomy and their fascinating and often comical behaviors; it covers each species’ North American conservation status; and it showcases over 250 stunning photographs of woodpeckers in their natural habitats, plus easy-to-read figures and range maps. This reference guide is an essential addition to every birder's library.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in North American woodpeckers!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

New Title

1) Church, Elizabeth J.. The Atomic Weight of Love: A Novel. 2016. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Hardbound: 335 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In her sweeping debut novel, Elizabeth J. Church takes us from the World War II years in Chicago to the vast sun-parched canyons of New Mexico in the 1970s as we follow the journey of a driven, spirited young woman, Meridian Wallace, whose scientific ambitions are subverted by the expectations of her era.
     In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly.
     Entranced and in love, Meridian defers her own career path and follows Alden west to Los Alamos, where he is engaged in a secret government project (later known to be the atomic bomb). In married life, though, she feels lost and left behind. She channels her academic ambitions into studying a particular family of crows, whose free life and companionship are the very things that seem beyond her reach. There in her canyons, years later at the dawn of the 1970s, with counterculture youth filling the streets and protests against the war rupturing college campuses across the country, Meridian meets Clay, a young geologist and veteran of the Vietnam War, and together they seek ways to mend what the world has broken.
     Exquisitely capturing the claustrophobic eras of 1940s and 1950s America, The Atomic Weight of Love also examines the changing roles of women during the decades that followed. And in Meridian Wallace we find an unforgettable heroine whose metamorphosis shows how the women’s movement opened up the world for a whole generation.
RECOMMENDATION: Birders should find the ornithological themes in this book interesting!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New Title

1) Osterlund, Hob. Holy Moli: Albatross and Other Ancestors. 2016. OSU Press. Paperback: 147 pages. Price: $18.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Hob Osterlund moved to Hawai'i after being visited in a dream by an ancestor, Martha Beckwith, author of the monumental classic, Hawaiian Mythology. It was there, on the island of Kaua'i, where she happened upon a few courting albatross and felt an inexplicable attraction to the birds—an attraction too powerful to be explained by their beguiling airbrushed eye shadows, enormous wingspans, and rollicking dances.
      In Hawaiian mythology, ancestors may occupy the physical forms of animals known as 'aumakua. Laysan albatross—known as moli—are among them. Smitten with these charismatic creatures, Osterlund set out to learn everything she could about moli. She eventually came to embrace them as her 'aumakua—not as dusty old myths on a museum bookshelf, but as breathing, breeding, boisterous realities.
       Albatross sport many superlative qualities. They live long—sometimes longer than sixty years—and spend the majority of their time airborne, gliding across vast oceanic expanses. They are model mates and devoted parents, and are among the only animals known to take long-term same-sex partners. In nesting season, they rack up inconceivable mileage just to find supper for chicks waiting on the islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.
       It is from the island of Kaua'i that Holy Moli takes flight.  Osterlund relates a true tale of courage, celebration and grief—of patience, affection and resilience. This is the story of how albatross guided the author on her own long journey, retracing distances and decades, back to the origin of a binding bargain she struck when she was ten years old, shortly after her mother’s death.
       Holy Moli is a natural history of the albatross, a moving memoir of grief, and a soaring tribute to ancestors. Within its pages are lyrics of wonder—for freedom, for beauty, and for the far-flung feathered creatures known to us as albatross.
RECOMMENDATION: Albatross fans should enjoy this book!