Thursday, October 23, 2014
1) Beolens, Bo, Michael Watkins, Michael Grayson. The Eponym Dictionary of Birds. 2014. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 624 pages. Price: $86.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Birdwatchers often come across bird names that include a person's name, either in the vernacular (English) name or latinised in the scientific nomenclature. Such names are properly called eponyms, and few people will not have been curious as to who some of these people were (or are).
Names such as Darwin, Wallace, Audubon, Gould and (Gilbert) White are well known to most people. Keener birders will have yearned to see Pallas's Warbler, Hume's Owl, Swainson's Thrush, Steller's Eider or Brünnich's Guillemot. But few people today will have even heard of Albertina's Myna, Barraband's Parrot, Guerin's Helmetcrest or Savigny's Eagle Owl. This extraordinary new work lists more than 4,000 eponymous names covering 10,000 genera, species and subspecies of birds. Every taxon with an eponymous vernacular or scientific name (whether in current usage or not) is listed, followed by a concise biography of the person concerned. These entries vary in length from a few lines to several paragraphs, depending on the availability of information or the importance of the individual's legacy. The text is punctuated with intriguing or little-known facts, unearthed in the course of the authors' extensive research.
Ornithologists will find this an invaluable reference, especially to sort out birds named after people with identical surnames or in situations where only a person's forenames are used. But all birders will find much of interest in this fascinating volume, a book to dip into time and time again whenever their curiosity is aroused.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in ornithological etymology.
1) Campbell, Iain, Sam Woods and Nick Leseberg. Birds of Australia: A Photographic Guide. 2014. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 391 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Australia is home to a spectacular diversity of birdlife, from parrots and penguins to emus and vibrant passerines. Birds of Australia covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants and features more than 1,100 stunning color photographs, including many photos of subspecies and plumage variations never before seen in a field guide. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe key identification features such as size, plumage, distribution, behavior, and voice. This one-of-a-kind guide also provides extensive habitat descriptions with a large number of accompanying photos. The text relies on the very latest IOC taxonomy and the distribution maps incorporate the most current mapping data, making this the most up-to-date guide to Australian birds.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the birds of Australia.
2) Bach, Richard. Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition. 2014. Scribner. Paperback: 133 pages. Price: $12.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The new complete edition of a timeless classic that includes the never-before-published Part Four and Last Words by Richard Bach.
This is the story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules…people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves…people who know there’s more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than they ever dreamed.
A pioneering work that wed graphics with words, Jonathan Livingston Seagull now enjoys a whole new life.
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of the book can now read the final Part Four.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from the Congo forest. As swiftly as it came, it disappeared, leaving no trace. Over the four decades since, Ebola has emerged sporadically, each time to devastating effect. It can kill up to 90 percent of its victims. In between these outbreaks, it is untraceable, hiding deep in the jungle. The search is on to find Ebola’s elusive host animal. And until we find it, Ebola will continue to strike. Acclaimed science writer and explorer David Quammen first came near the virus while he was traveling in the jungles of Gabon, accompanied by local men whose village had been devastated by a recent outbreak. Here he tells the story of Ebola—its past, present, and its unknowable future.
Extracted from Spillover by David Quammen, updated and with additional material.
RECOMMENDATION: A quick introduction on a topic that's in the headlines.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
1) Ceballos, Gerardo (editor). Mammals of Mexico. 2014. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 957 pages. Price: $150.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Mammals of Mexico is the first reference book in English on the more than 500 types of mammal species found in the diverse Mexican habitats, which range from the Sonoran Desert to the Chiapas cloud forests. The authoritative species accounts are written by a Who’s Who of experts compiled by famed mammalogist and conservationist Gerardo Ceballos.
Ten years in the making, Mammals of Mexico covers everything from obscure rodents to whales, bats, primates, and wolves. It is thoroughly illustrated with color photographs and meticulous artistic renderings, as well as range maps for each species. Introductory chapters discuss biogeography, conservation, and evolution. The final section of the book illustrates the skulls, jaws, and tracks of Mexico’s mammals.
This unparalleled collection of scientific information on, and photographs of, Mexican wildlife belongs on the shelf of every mammalogist, in public and academic libraries, and in the hands of anyone curious about Mexico and its wildlife.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the mammals of Mexico!
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
1) Doyle, Brian. Children and Other Wild Animals. 2014. OSU Press. Paperback: 163 pages. Price: $18.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In Children and Other Wild Animals, bestselling novelist Brian Doyle (Mink River, The Plover) describes encounters with astounding beings of every sort and shape. These true tales of animals and human mammals (generally the smaller sizes, but here and there elders and jumbos) delightfully blur the line between the two.
In these short vignettes, Doyle explores the seethe of life on this startling planet, the astonishing variety of our riveting companions, and the joys available to us when we pause, see, savor, and celebrate the small things that are not small in the least.
Doyle’s trademark quirky prose is at once lyrical, daring, and refreshing; his essays are poignant but not pap, sharp but not sermons, and revelatory at every turn. Throughout there is humor and humility and a palpable sense of wonder, with passages of reflection so true and hard earned they make you stop and reread a line, a paragraph, a page.
Children and Other Wild Animals gathers previously unpublished work with selections that have appeared in Orion, The Sun, Utne Reader, High Country News, and The American Scholar, as well as Best American Essays (“The Greatest Nature Essay Ever”) and Best American Nature and Science Writing (“Fishering”).
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Doyle's other writings should enjoy this book.
2) Russell, Sharman Apt. Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World. 2014. OSU Press. Paperback: 222 pages. Price: $18.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In the exploding world of citizen science, hundreds of thousands of volunteers are monitoring climate change, tracking bird migration, finding stardust for NASA, and excavating mastodons. The sheer number of citizen scientists, combined with new technology, has begun to shape how research is conducted. Non-professionals become acknowledged experts: dentists turn into astronomers and accountants into botanists.
Diary of a Citizen Scientist is a timely exploration of this phenomenon, told through the lens of nature writer Sharman Apt Russell’s yearlong study of a little-known species, the Western red-bellied tiger beetle. In a voice both humorous and lyrical, Russell recounts her persistent and joyful tracking of an insect she calls “charismatic,” “elegant,” and “fierce.” Patrolling the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico, collector’s net in hand, she negotiates the realities of climate change even as she celebrates the beauty of a still-wild and rural landscape.
Russell’s self-awareness—of her occasionally-misplaced confidence, her quest to fill in “that blank spot on the map of tiger beetles,” and her desire to become newly engaged in her life—creates a portrait not only of the tiger beetle she tracks, but of the mindset behind self-driven scientific inquiry. Falling in love with the diversity of citizen science, she participates in crowdsourcing programs that range from cataloging galaxies to monitoring the phenology of native plants, applauds the growing role of citizen science in environmental activism, and marvels at the profusion of projects around the world.
Diary of a Citizen Scientist offers its readers a glimpse into the transformative properties of citizen science—and documents the transformation of the field as a whole.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting take on citizen science projects.
Monday, October 13, 2014
1) Alderfer, Jonathan (editor). National Geographic Complete Birds of North America, 2nd Edition. 2014. National Geographic Society. Hardbound: 744 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Essential, comprehensive, and easy to use, the revised edition of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America is an astonishing resource that covers every bird species found in North America as well as all the seasonal visitors. Entries are organized by family group, the taxonomic organization newly updated to match current American Ornithologists' Union guidelines. Within a family, each separate bird entry has dozens of tips and illustrations on species' gender, age group, behavior, habitat, nesting and feeding habits, and migration routes. Providing full information on more than 1,000 species, this book features hundreds of range and migration maps, cutting-edge information on identification, and more than 4,000 annotated illustrations by expert bird artists.
RECOMMENDATION: This book is a useful supplement to the National Geographic field guide.