Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 117

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Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.

~ Arnold Lobel [1933-1987] author of many popular children’s books.

The Birdbooker Report is a special weekly report of a wide variety of science, nature and behavior books that currently are, or soon will be available for purchase. This report is written by one of my Seattle birding pals and book collector, Ian “Birdbooker” Paulsen, and is edited by me and published here for your information and enjoyment. Below the fold is this week’s issue of The Birdbooker Report which lists ecology, environment, natural history and bird books that are (or will soon be) available for purchase.


New and Recent Titles:

  1. Burney, David A. Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua’i: A Scientist’s Adventures in the Dark. 2010. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 198 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.[Amazon: $18.48].
    SUMMARY: For two decades, paleoecologist David Burney and his wife, Lida Pigott Burney, have led an excavation of Makauwahi Cave on the island of Kaua’i, uncovering the fascinating variety of plants and animals that have inhabited Hawaii throughout its history. From the unique perspective of paleoecology — the study of ancient environments — Burney has focused his investigations on the dramatic ecological changes that began after the arrival of humans one thousand years ago, detailing not only the environmental degradation they introduced but also asking how and why this destruction occurred and, most significantly, what might happen in the future.
    RECOMMENDATION: For those interested in the paleoecology of Hawaii.
  2. Chadwick, Douglas H. The Wolverine Way. 2010. Patagonia Books. Hardbound: 277 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S. [Amazon: $17.13].
    SUMMARY: This book reveals the natural history of this species and the forces that threaten its future, engagingly told by Douglas Chadwick, who volunteered with the Glacier Wolverine Project. This five-year study in Glacier National Park – which involved dealing with blizzards, grizzlies, sheer mountain walls, and other daily challenges to survival – uncovered key missing information about the wolverine’s habitat, social structure and reproduction habits. Wolverines, according to Chadwick, are the land equivalent of polar bears in regard to the impacts of global warming.
    RECOMMENDATION: An interesting read on this elusive predator.
  3. Faulkner, Douglas W. Birds of Wyoming. 2010. Roberts and Company, Publishers. Hardbound: 404 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S. [Amazon: $32.40].
    SUMMARY: Birds of Wyoming is the first comprehensive guide since 1939 to the status and distribution of Wyoming’s avifauna. The book provides detailed information for over 400 bird species known to have occurred in Wyoming through 2008. Each full-page resident species account features a species photo and distribution map, while the non-resident section provides the reader insight on regular migrants and rarities. Introductory chapters authored by state experts give an indepth look at the state’s ornithological history, vegetative landscapes, and avian conservation efforts. Habitat-focused sections by regional experts provide a broader view of management and conservation issues within Wyoming’s dominant sagebrush, montane forest, and shortgrass prairie ecotones. Birds of Wyoming fills the niche for a state-based reference that will be useful to a wide range of professional disciplines and amateur birders. Governmental land managers as well as local and out-of-state birders alike will benefit from the easily accessible information (and literature references in most cases) in each species account.
    RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders in the region, although I wish the resident and non-resident birds were in one section instead of two.
  4. Hatcher, J.B. Bone Hunters In Patagonia. 1903 (1985). Paperback: 209 pages. Price: $22.00 U.S. [Amazon: $22.00].
    SUMMARY: In 1896 paleontologist John Bell Hatcher set off to collect the wondrous fossils rumored to be found in the harsh and often hostile mountains and plains of Patagonia. Bone Hunters in Patagonia is Hatcher’s account of his remarkable three-year expedition. In form and content, it reads much like a continuation of Charles Darwin’s Patagonian reports in Voyage of the Beagle. Yet, in many ways, Hatcher is the more interesting author, a man “driven beyond the limits of civilization to study nature in her true form.”
    RECOMMENDATION: For those interested in the history of paleontology.
  5. Moffett, Mark W. Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions. 2010. University of California Press. Hardbound: 280 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon: $19.77].
    SUMMARY: Intrepid international explorer, biologist, and photographer Mark W. Moffett, “the Indiana Jones of entomology,” takes us around the globe on a strange and colorful journey in search of the hidden world of ants. In tales from Nigeria, Indonesia, the Amazon, Australia, California, and elsewhere, Moffett recounts his entomological exploits and provides fascinating details on how ants live and how they dominate their ecosystems through strikingly human behaviors, yet at a different scale and a faster tempo. Moffett’s spectacular close-up photographs shrink us down to size, so that we can observe ants in familiar roles; warriors, builders, big-game hunters, and slave owners. We find them creating marketplaces and assembly lines and dealing with issues we think of as uniquely human–including hygiene, recycling, and warfare. Adventures among Ants introduces some of the world’s most awe-inspiring species and offers a startling new perspective on the limits of our own perception.
    RECOMMENDATION: Anyone interested in insects will like this book.
  6. Onley, Derek and Sandy Bartle. Identification of Seabirds of the Southern Ocean. 1999 (2006). Te Papa Press. Hardbound: 81 pages. Price: $22.50 U.S. [Amazon sellers].
    SUMMARY: This book has been written to help scientific observers identify those seabirds likely to be caught in the Southern Ocean, and takes into account the requirements of the CCAMLR Scheme of International Scientific Observation. It covers the identification of 36 species of birds from the Southern Ocean that have been caught in fishing gear or have been seen feeding from fishing boats. By following the keys to identification, observers should be able to identify most seabirds caught in commercial fisheries in the Southern Ocean with confidence.
    RECOMMENDATION: Seabirders in the South Pacific will find this book useful.

You can read all the Birdbooker Reports in the archives on this site, and Ian now has his own website, The Birdbooker Report, where you can read his synopses about newly published science, nature and animal books. But Ian assures me that he still loves us here, so he’ll still share his weekly Birdbooker Reports with us!