Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 125-126

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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, environment and behavior books and field guides 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.


FEATURED TITLE:

  1. Cartron, Jean-Luc E. (editor). Raptors of New Mexico. 2010. University of New Mexico Press. Hardbound: 710 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S. [Amazon: $33.75].
    SUMMARY: No book has ever before specifically focused on the birds of prey of New Mexico. Both Florence Bailey (1928) and J. Stokley Ligon (1961) published volumes on the birds of New Mexico, but their coverage of raptors was somewhat limited. In the ensuing years a great deal of new information has been collected on these mighty hunters’ distribution, ecology, and conservation, including in New Mexico. The book begins with a history of the word “raptor.” The order of Raptatores, or Raptores, was first used to classify birds of prey in the early nineteenth century, derived from the Latin word raptor, one who seizes by force. The text then includes the writings of thirty-seven contributing authors who relate their observations on these regal species. Raptors of New Mexico will provide readers with a comprehensive treatment of all hawks, eagles, kites, vultures, falcons, and owls breeding or wintering in New Mexico, or simply migrating through the state. This landmark study is also beautifully illustrated with more than six hundred photographs, including the work of more than one hundred photographers, and more than twenty species distribution maps.
    RECOMMENDATION: A must have for birders in New Mexico and for anyone with an interest in North American raptors!

New and Recent Titles:

  1. MacDonald D.W. and A.J. Loveridge (editors). Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. 2010. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 762 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S. [Amazon: $64.87].
    SUMMARY: The editors utilize their 50 years of combined experience in professional engagement with the behavior and ecology of wild felids to draw together a unique network of the world’s most respected and knowledgeable experts. For the first time, this inter-disciplinary research program is brought together within a single volume. Beginning with a complete account of all 36 felid species, there follow 8 comprehensive review chapters that span all the topics most relevant to felid conservation science, including evolution and systematics, felid form and function, genetic applications, behavioral ecology, management of species that come into conflict with people and control of international trade in felid species, conservation tools/techniques, ex situ management, and felid diseases. 19 detailed case studies then delve deeply into syntheses of the very best species investigations worldwide, written by all the leading figures in the field. These chapters portray the unique attributes of the wild felids, describe their fascinating (and conflicting) relationship with humans, and create an unparalleled platform for future research and conservation measures. A final chapter analyses the requirements of, and inter-disciplinary approaches to, practical conservation with cutting-edge examples of conservation science and action that go far beyond the cat family.
    RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in wild cats.
  2. Scott, Graham. Essential Ornithology. 2010. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 162 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S. [Amazon: $47.84].
    SUMMARY: this book provides the reader with a concise but comprehensive introduction to the biology of birds, one of the most widely studied taxonomic groups. The book starts with the controversial question of the dinosaur origins of birds and their subsequent evolution. Development, anatomy, and physiology are then discussed followed by chapters devoted to avian reproduction, migration, ecology, and conservation. Sections dealing with aspects of bird/human relationships and bird conservation give the book an applied context. Drawing extensively upon the wider scientific literature, this engaging text places the results of classical studies of avian biology alongside the most recent scientific breakthroughs. Useful case studies are presented in a concise and engaging style with the student reader foremost in mind. Key points are highlighted and suggestions for guided reading and key references are included throughout.
    RECOMMENDATION: A good but basic introduction to ornithology.
  3. Ward, Peter D. The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World without Ice Caps. 2010. Basic Books. Hardbound: 261 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S. [Amazon: $17.13].
    SUMMARY: Sea level rise will happen no matter what we do. Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions today, the seas would rise one meter by 2050 and three meters by 2100. This — not drought, species extinction, or excessive heat waves — will be the most catastrophic effect of global warming. And it won’t simply redraw our coastlines — agriculture, electrical and fiber optic systems, and shipping will be changed forever. As icebound regions melt, new sources of oil, gas, minerals, and arable land will be revealed, as will fierce geopolitical battles over who owns the rights to them. In The Flooded Earth, species extinction expert Peter Ward describes in intricate detail what our world will look like in 2050, 2100, 2300, and beyond — a blueprint for a foreseeable future. Ward also explains what politicians and policymakers around the world should be doing now to head off the worst consequences of an inevitable transformation.
    RECOMMENDATION: An interesting, yet depressing overview on sea level rise that will be caused by global warming.
  4. Weber, John W. A Review of Birds of Washington (Wahl et al. 2005) and Supplement to Birds of Southeastern Washington (Weber and Larrison 1977). 2010. Buteo Books. Paperback: 109 pages. Price: $22.00 U.S.
    SUMMARY: A review and critique of Birds of Washington: Status and Distribution edited by Terence R. Wahl, Bill Tweit and Steven G. Mlodinow (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2005). Weber places particular importance on specimen records and is critical of Wahl et als uneven citation of the literature on Washington’s avifauna. The Supplement to Weber and Larrison’s Birds of Southeastern Washington (1977) reports on fieldwork in the Blue Mountains and updates to the species accounts from 1977 to 1984. The valuable discussion of taxonomic issues includes a critique of Bell’s 1996 paper on Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls. Included are reprints of five papers by Weber which originally appeared in Continental Birdlife and the Murrelet. Available from Buteo Books.
    RECOMMENDATION: Weber corrects errors of his work, among other things, that appeared in Wahl et al. The reprints and the supplement might be useful to birders in southeastern Washington. (The original Birds of Southeastern Washington can be found in the used book market for $15.00+ U.S.)

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!

Comments

  1. #1 biosparite
    July 12, 2010

    Re Peter Ward’s THE FLOODED EARTH. I would also recommend UNDER A GREEN SKY by the same author, and, of course, his THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PLANET EARTH.

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