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.
My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-342/
Saturday, October 11, 2014
1) Pratt, Thane K. & Bruce M. Beehler. Birds of New Guinea: Second Edition. 2014. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 528 pages. Price: $49.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the completely revised edition of the essential field guide to the birds of New Guinea. The world’s largest tropical island, New Guinea boasts a spectacular avifauna characterized by cassowaries, megapodes, pigeons, parrots, cuckoos, kingfishers, and owlet-nightjars, as well as an exceptionally diverse assemblage of songbirds such as the iconic birds of paradise and bowerbirds. Birds of New Guinea is the only guide to cover all 780 bird species reported in the area, including 366 endemics. Expanding its coverage with 111 vibrant color plates—twice as many as the first edition—and the addition of 635 range maps, the book also contains updated species accounts with new information about identification, voice, habits, and range. A must-have for everyone from ecotourists to field researchers, Birds of New Guinea remains an indispensable guide to the diverse birds of this remarkable region.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for birders with an interest in the region!