Friday, April 17, 2015
1) Horgan, John. The End Of Science: Facing The Limits Of Knowledge In The Twilight Of The Scientific Age. 2015 (1996). Basic Books. Paperback: 333 pages. Price: $17.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In The End of Science, John Horgan makes the case that the era of truly profound scientific revelations about the universe and our place in it is over. Interviewing scientific luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, and Richard Dawkins, he demonstrates that all the big questions that can be answered have been answered, as science bumps up against fundamental limits. The world cannot give us a "theory of everything," and modern endeavors such as string theory are "ironic" and "theological" in nature, not scientific, because they are impossible to confirm. Horgan's argument was controversial in 1996, and it remains so today, still firing up debates in labs and on the internet, not least because—as Horgan details in a lengthy new introduction—ironic science is more prevalent than ever. Still, while Horgan offers his critique, grounded in the thinking of the world's leading researchers, he offers homage, too. If science is ending, he maintains, it is only because it has done its work so well.
RECOMMENDATION: This paperback reissue has a new preface.
Monday, April 13, 2015
1) Gustafson, Mark. A Naturalist's Guide to the Texas Hill Country. 2015. Texas A&M University Press. Flexibound: 350 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In this guide, biologist Mark Gustafson introduces residents and visitors to the history, geology, water resources, plants, and animals found in the nineteen counties occupying the eastern part of the Edwards Plateau, the heart of the Hill Country.
He profiles three hundred of the most common and unique species from all of the major groups of plants and animals: trees, shrubs, wildflowers, cacti, vines, grasses, ferns, fungi, lichens, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and invertebrates. Color photographs are included for each species along with a brief description.
He closes with a chapter on significant state parks and natural areas in the region as an invitation to visit and explore the Texas Hill Country.
As large metropolitan areas continue to encroach on the Hill Country, newcomers are moving in and more people are flocking to its many attractions. This guidebook will enrich the appreciation of the region’s rich and unique biodiversity and encourage conservation of the natural world encountered.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In their second guide to birding in New Mexico, Judy Liddell and Barbara Hussey share their experiences and intimate knowledge of the best places to find birds in and around Santa Fe and other areas in northern New Mexico.
Following the same format as their book on the Albuquerque area, the authors describe 32 sites organized by geographic regions. Along with a general description of each area, the authors list target birds; explain where and when to look for them; give driving directions; provide information about public transportation, parking, fees, restrooms, food, and lodging; and give tips on availability of water and picnic facilities and on the presence of hazards such as poison ivy, rattlesnakes, and bears. Maps and photographs provide trail diagrams and images of some of the target birds and their environments.
A “helpful information” section covering weather, altitude, safety, transportation, and other local birding resources is included along with an annotated checklist of 276 bird species seen with some regularity in and around Santa Fe.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders with an interest in the region.
Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 352 pages. Price: $ 85.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A common sight around the more northerly shores of the British Isles, the Common Eider is the largest duck in the northern hemisphere. The eider is particularly well adapted to cold-water environments; the insulating properties of eider down are iconic. The species is taxonomically interesting, with a range of well-marked subspecies reflecting the patterns of ice coverage during ancient glaciations, and these ducks have also provided the focus for a number of important behavioural studies, especially on feeding ecology and energy budgets.
Eiders have a long association with humans, and have deep cultural significance in many societies. However, modern lifestyles are exposing these ducks to a wide range of new pressures.
This monograph provides a comprehensive portrait of the Common Eider; authors Chris Waltho and John Coulson bring together an extensive and diverse international literature, with sections on taxonomy, habitats, breeding biology, population dynamics, diet and foraging, dispersal and migration, and conservation.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with a serious interest in this species.
My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-368/
Friday, April 10, 2015
1) Goulson, Dave. A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm. 2015. Picador. Hardbound: 266 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A Sting in the Tale, Dave Goulson's account of a lifetime studying bees, was a powerful call to arms for nature lovers everywhere. Brilliantly reviewed, it was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for the best nonfiction book of the year, and debuted the already renowned conservationist's ability to charm and educate, and tell an absorbing story.
In A Buzz in the Meadow, Goulson returns to tell the tale of how he bought a derelict farm in the heart of rural France. Over the course of a decade, on thirty-three acres of meadow, he created a place for his beloved bumblebees to thrive. But other creatures live there too, myriad insects of every kind, many of which Goulson had studied before in his career as a biologist. You'll learn how a deathwatch beetle finds its mate, why butterflies have spots on their wings, and see how a real scientist actually conducts his experiments.
But this book is also a wake-up call, urging us to cherish and protect life in all its forms. Goulson has that rare ability to persuade you to go out into your garden or local park and observe the natural world. The undiscovered glory that is life in all its forms is there to be discovered. And if we learn to value what we have, perhaps we will find a way to keep it.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's A Sting in the Tale, you should enjoy this book.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
1) Kress, Stephen W. and Derrick Z. Jackson. Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock. 2015. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 357 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Project Puffin is the inspiring story of how a beloved seabird was restored to long-abandoned nesting colonies off the Maine coast. As a young ornithology instructor at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, Dr. Stephen W. Kress learned that puffins had nested on nearby islands until extirpated by hunters in the late 1800s. To right this environmental wrong, he resolved to bring puffins back to one such island—Eastern Egg Rock. Yet bringing the plan to reality meant convincing skeptics, finding resources, and inventing restoration methods at a time when many believed in “letting nature take its course.”
Today, Project Puffin has restored more than 1,000 puffin pairs to three Maine islands. But even more exciting, techniques developed during the project have helped to restore rare and endangered seabirds worldwide. Further, reestablished puffins now serve as a window into the effects of climate change. The success of Dr. Kress's project offers hope that people can restore lost wildlife populations and the habitats that support them. The need for such inspiration has never been greater.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in seabird conservation.
Monday, April 6, 2015
1) Ball, Stuart & Roger Morris. Britain's Hoverflies: A Field Guide (Revised and Updated Second edition). 2015. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 312 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Britain’s Hoverflies is a beautifully illustrated photographic field guide to the hoverflies of Britain, focusing on the species that can be most readily identified. It is the perfect companion for wildlife enthusiasts, professional ecologists and anyone else with an interest in this fascinating group of insects, and is designed to appeal to beginners and experts alike.
Accessible, authoritative and easy to use, this book contains hundreds of remarkable photographs of the various life stages of those species that can be identified by eye or with a magnifying glass, with coverage of at least one representative from each of the British genera. It also features an essential guide to the hoverfly tribes. Detailed species accounts summarize the species’ status, highlight the key identification features, provide notes on behaviour and habitat requirements and include flight-period charts and up-to-date distribution maps. Sections on hoverfly biology, where and when to look for hoverflies, legislation and conservation, photographing hoverflies, recording hoverflies and gardening for hoverflies are also included.
This fully revised and updated second edition:
- Features more than 650 stunning colour photographs
- Provides detailed information for the 167 species that can be most readily identified, including at least one species from each of the 68 genera recorded in Britain
- Includes a complete list of the 283 hoverfly species recorded in Britain to date, with an indication of how difficult each is to identify
My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-366-7/