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Noteworthy Books of the Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 17, Number 3, 2010

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 17, Issue 3 (2010): 517–522

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2010 Noteworthy Books 517 517 Noteworthy Books Received by the Northeastern Naturalist, Issue 17/3, 2010 Arthur Carhart: Wilderness Prophet. Tom Wolf. 2008. University Press of Colorado, Boulder, CO. 304 pp. $34.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780870819131. Arthur Carhart (1892–1978), America’s first champion of wilderness, the first Forest Service landscape architect, and the most popular conservation writer of midcentury America, won none of the titan status of his contemporary Aldo Leopold. A political maverick, he refused to side with any major advocacy group, and none has made him its saint. Carhart was a grassroots thinker in a top-down era. Arthur Carhart, the first biography of this Republican environmentalist and major American thinker, writer, and activist, reveals the currency of his ideas. Tom Wolf elucidates Carhart’s vision of conservation as “a job for all of us,” with citizens, municipal authorities, and national leaders all responsible for the environmental effects of their decisions. Carhart loved the local and decried interest groups— from stockmens’ associations to wilderness lobbies—as cliques attempting blanket control. He pressured land management agencies to base decisions on local ecology and local partnerships. A lifelong wilderness advocate who proposed the first wilderness preserve at Trappers Lake, Colorado, in 1919, Carhart chose to oppose the Wilderness Act, heartsick at its compromises with lobbies. Because he shifted his stance and changed his views in response to new information, Carhart is not an easy subject for a biography. Wolf traces Carhart’s twists and turns to show a man whose voice was distinctive and contrary, who spoke from a passionate concern for the land and couldn’t be counted on for anything else. Readers of American history and outdoor writing will enjoy this portrait of a historic era in conservation politics and the man who so often eschewed politics in favor of the land and people he loved. Fern Ecology. Klaus Mehltreter, Lawrence R. Walker, and Joanne M. Sharpe (Editors). 2010. Cambridge Univesity Press, Cambridge, UK. 460 pp. $59, softcover. ISBN 9780521728201. Ferns are an integral part of the world's flora, appreciated for their beauty as ornamentals, problematic as invaders and endangered by human interference. ,They often dominate forest understories but also colonize open areas, invade waterways, and survive in nutrient-poor wastelands and eroded pastures. Presented here is the first comprehensive summary of fern ecology, with worldwide examples from Siberia to the islands of Hawaii. Topics include a brief history of the ecological study of ferns, a global survey of fern biogeography, fern population dynamics, the role of ferns in ecosystem nutrient cycles, their adaptations to xeric environments, and future directions in fern ecology. Fully illustrated concepts and processes provide a framework for future research and utilization of ferns for graduate students and professionals in ecology, conservation, and land management. This volume covers common ecological principles and broader socio-economic issues, for students, researchers and professional ecologists, conservationists and land managers. Harpoon: Into the Heart of Whaling. Andrew Darby. 2008. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA. 320 pp. $25, hardcover. ISBN 9780306816291. From one-hundred-fifty-ton barnacled Blues to the sleek, embattled Minke, whales have been hunted worldwide to near extinction. Despite efforts to halt the killing, the future of these majestic mammals— known as “mind in the water”—is again in jeopardy. With passion and engaging detail, Andrew Darby profiles each species of whale and its place in this great drama. From the wooden harpoons of 518 Northeastern Naturalist Vol. 17, No.3 aboriginals in “cockleshell” vessels, to the high-tech killing machines of today’s lawless Russian whalers and smooth-talking Japanese “scientific” crews, Darby chronicles the evolving pursuit of whales and its significance to our humanity. Fans of well-written history, as well as those fascinated by whales and the fierce international conflict surrounding them, will be swept into the very heart of whaling. Natural Landscapes of Maine: A Guide to Natural Communities and Ecosystems. Susan Gawler and Andrew Cutko. 2010. Maine Natural Areas Program, Augusta, ME. 348 pp. $18.95, softcover. ISBN 9780615347394. Teachers, foresters, land trusts, students, ecologists, consultants, conservationists, and others who enjoy the natural landscape around them have long and eagerly awaited the publication of Natural Landscapes of Maine. Maine is a special place. Those who have walked its woods, paddled its waters, or hiked its mountains know there are few places on earth with such vast forests, pristine wetlands, rugged mountains, and majestic coastal headlands all within a day’s drive. This book divides Maine’s landscape into smaller pieces—“natural communities” and “ecosystems”—and assigns names to those pieces based on where they fit in the landscape and on their attendant trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and wildlife species. Each of Maine’s 104 natural communities has a two-page description with color photographs and distribution maps. Introductory material includes a diagnostic key and how this classification fits into a bigger picture for conservation, and appendices include a cross-reference to other classification types and a glossary. A Matter of Life and Death: Hunting in Contemporary Vermont. Marc Boglioli. 2009. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA. 208 pp. $24.95, softcover. ISBN 9781558497160. American hunters occupy a remarkably complex place in this country’s cultural and political landscape. On the one hand, they are cast as perpetrators of an anachronistic and unnecessary assault on innocent wildlife. On the other hand, they are lauded as exemplars of no-nonsense American rugged individualism. Yet despite the passion that surrounds the subject, we rarely hear the unfiltered voices of actual hunters in discussions of hunting. In A Matter of Life and Death, anthropologist Marc Boglioli puts a human face on a group widely regarded as morally suspect, one that currently stands in the crossfire of America’s so-called culture wars. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Addison County, Vermont, which took him from hunting camps and sporting goods stores to local bars and kitchen tables, Boglioli focuses on how contemporary hunters, women as well as men, understand their relationship to their prey. He shows how hunters’ attitudes toward animals flow directly from the rural lifeways they have continued to maintain in the face of encroaching urban sensibilities. The result is a rare glimpse into a culture that experiences wild animals in a way that is at once violent, consumptive, and respectful, and that regards hunting as an enduring link to a vanishing past. It is a book that will challenge readers— hunters, non-hunters, and anti-hunters alike—to reconsider what constitutes a morally appropriate relationship with the non-human residents of this planet. Moose. Kevin Jackson. 2008. Reaktion Books, London, UK. 200 pp. $19.95, softcover. ISBN 9781861893963. Its hooves were supposedly a cure for epilepsy, it is the mascot of the clothing company Abercrombie and Fitch, and its meat is a delicacy. The Moose is a fascinating but elusive animal of the north, and its little-known natural history is the focus of Kevin Jackson’s engaging new book. Moose explains the animal’s behavior, evolution, and diet, and describes its natural environments around 2010 Noteworthy Books 519 the world, including in the USA, Canada, and Scandinavia, where the Moose is the national animal of Sweden and of Norway. Jackson considers why the Moose is really an Elk and an Elk is a Wapiti, and he also discusses the controversy behind the naming of the Irish Elk. The Moose has been a quarry for humans since the Stone Age, and this book does not stint on the animal’s role in human history, including the “alces” in Julius Caesar’s history of the Gallic Wars and in association with figures such as Thomas Jefferson, poet Ted Hughes, and Theodore Roosevelt with his Bull Moose Party. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, a 150-foot statue being built in Sweden, and colorful Moose lore all appear in this wide-ranging study, making this an essential read for naturalists and Moose lovers alike. Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West. James Lawrence Powell. 2009. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 304 pp. $27.50, hardcover. ISBN 9780520254770. Where will the water come from to sustain the great desert cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix? In a provocative exploration of the past, present, and future of water in the West, James Lawrence Powell begins at Lake Powell, the vast reservoir that has become an emblem of this story. At present, Lake Powell is less than half full. Bathtub rings ten stories tall encircle its blue water; boat ramps and marinas lie stranded and useless. To refill it would require surplus water—but there is no surplus: burgeoning populations and thirsty crops consume every drop of the Colorado River. Add to this picture the looming effects of global warming and drought, and the scenario becomes bleaker still. Dead Pool, featuring rarely seen historical photographs, explains why America built the dam that made Lake Powell and others like it and then allowed its citizens to become dependent on their benefits, which were always temporary. Writing for a wide audience, Powell shows us exactly why an urgent threat during the first half of the twenty-first century will come more from the falling of the reservoirs than from the rising of the seas. Good Tidings: The history and Ecology of Shellfish Farming in the Northeast. Barbara Brennessel. 2008. University of New England Press, Lebanon, NH. 226 pp. $29.95, hardcover. ISBN 9781584657279. Both a history of the New England shellfish industry and a look into the science, economics, and techniques of shellfish aquaculture. For a food-obsessed culture, it is surprising how little we actually know about many of the creatures we consume. Take the iconic New England shellfish. While we blithely slurp down oysters and prong another mussel out of its shell, how much do we actually know about the science and industry that brought it to our plate? Inspired by her summers spent raking clams in Wellfleet, Barbara Brennessel has written an overview of the regional shellfish industry. Part industry guide, part biology lesson, part cultural history, Good Tidings is a wide-ranging study of the shellfish of the Northeast—including clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops— from seabed to plate. The book offers an accessible introduction to the science and ecology of the shellfish aquaculture industry, including a brief history of the industry in the northeast and a look at the current technologies utilized by shellfish growers. The author looks at issues as diverse as the history of wampum, landuse debates, the impact of the industry on the surrounding environment, and even offers the reader a selection of her favorite recipes. Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats, Second Edition. Thomas H. Kunz and Stuart Parsons (Editors). 2009. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 920 pp. $100, hardcover. ISBN 9780801891472. First published in 1988, Ecological and Behavioral Methods 520 Northeastern Naturalist Vol. 17, No.3 for the Study of Bats is widely acknowledged as the primary reference for both amateur and professional bat researchers. Bats are the second-most diverse group of mammals on the earth. They live on every continent except Antarctica, ranging from deserts to tropical forests to mountains, and their activities have a profound effect on the ecosystems in which they live. Despite their ubiquity and importance, bats are challenging to study. This volume provides researchers, conservationists, and consultants with the ecological background and specific information essential for studying bats in the wild and in captivity. Chapters detail many of the newest and most commonly used field and laboratory techniques needed to advance the study of bats, describe how these methods are applied to the study of the ecology and behavior of bats, and offer advice on how to interpret the results of research. The book includes forty-three chapters, fourteen of which are new to the second edition, with information on molecular ecology and evolution, bioacoustics, chemical communication, flight dynamics, population models, and methods for assessing postnatal growth and development. Fully illustrated and featuring contributions from the world’s leading experts in bat biology, this reference contains everything bat researchers and natural resource managers need to know for the study and conservation of this wide-ranging, ecologically vital, and diverse taxon. Metacommunities: Spatial Dynamics and Ecological Communities. Marcel Holyoak, Mathew A. Leibold, and Robert D. Holt (Editors). 2005. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 520 pp. $41, softcover. ISBN 9780226350646. Until recently community ecology—a science devoted to understanding the patterns and processes of species distribution and abundance—focused mainly on specific and often limited scales of a single community. Since the 1970s, for example, metapopulation dynamics—studies of interacting groups of populations connected through movement—concentrated on the processes of population turnover, extinction, and establishment of new populations. Metacommunities takes the hallmarks of metapopulation theory to the next level by considering a group of communities, each of which may contain numerous populations, connected by species interactions within communities and the movement of individuals between communities. In examining communities open to dispersal, the book unites a broad range of ecological theories, presenting some of the first empirical investigations and revealing the value of the metacommunity approach. The collection of empirical, theoretical, and synthetic chapters in Metacommunities seeks to understand how communities work in fragmented landscapes. Encouraging community ecologists to rethink some of the leading theories of population and community dynamics, Metacommunities urges ecologists to expand the spatiotemporal scales of their research. The Oyster Question: Scientists, Watermen, and the Maryland Chesapeake Bay Since 1880. Christine Keiner. 2009. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 344 pp. $44.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780820326986. In The Oyster Question, Christine Keiner applies perspectives of environmental, agricultural, political, and social history to examine the decline of Maryland’s iconic Chesapeake Bay oyster industry. Oystermen have held on to traditional ways of life, and some continue to use preindustrial methods, tonging oysters by hand from small boats. Others use more intensive tools, and thus it is commonly believed that a lack of regulation enabled oystermen to exploit the bay to the point of ruin. But Keiner offers an opposing view in which state officials, scientists, and oystermen created a regulated commons that sustained tidewater communities for decades. Not until the 1980s did a confluence of natural 2010 Noteworthy Books 521 and unnatural disasters weaken the Bay’s resilience enough to endanger the oyster resource. Keiner examines conflicts that pitted scientists in favor of privatization against watermen who used their power in the statehouse to stave off the forces of rural change. Her study breaks new ground regarding the evolution of environmental politics at the state rather than the federal level. The Oyster Question concludes with the impassioned ongoing debate over introducing nonnative oysters to the Chesapeake Bay and how that proposal might affect the struggling watermen and their identity as the last hunter-gatherers of the industrialized world. Liverworts of New England: A Guide for the Amateur Naturalist. Mary S.G. Lincoln. 2008. The New York Botanical Garden Press, New York, NY. 161 pp. $45, hardcover. ISBN 9780893274788. Liverworts of New England is volume 99 of the Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden series. This is a book for those who are just beginning to look at these fascinating plants as well as for those who didn't even know these plants existed. The complexity, diversity, and beauty of liverworts make them absorbing objects of study and research. In explanations that do not intimidate or oversimplify, the author describes the nearly 200 species in 62 genera found in diverse habitats throughout the six New England states. Features that can be seen with a hand lens are emphasized, so that curious naturalists will not need a compound microscope. Color photographs, line drawings, distribution maps, and simple keys assist in the identification of common species, and a helpful glossary of terms is also included. Liverworts of New England is a great companion to The Macrolichens of New England (J.W. Hinds and P. L. Hinds, 2008; Memoirs vol. 96). Together these field guides to the New England region introduce novices to the art of finding and identifying liverworts and lichens visible to the naked eye. A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life in the North Atlantic: Canada to Cape Cod. J. Duane Sept. 2008. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 224 pp. $19.95, softcover. ISBN 9780691133195. The tides of the North Atlantic are the world’s highest, and they reveal a world of amazing seashore life—from jellies and sea anemones, to clams and crabs, to seaweeds and lichens. With some 300 crisp, vibrant color photographs and brief, precise descriptions, this field guide makes it easier than ever to identify Atlantic seashore life from Canada to Cape Cod. Duane Sept covers more than 225 common intertidal species found on rocky shores, sandy shores, mud beaches, and floating docks, and explains the natural history of these specialized organisms. He also describes tidal habitats, tells how to explore the seashore in a safe and environmentally responsible way, and provides extensive information on some of the best places in the North Atlantic to view seashore life. Both casual and dedicated beachcombers will find this a handy, enjoyable, and reliable guide. This first full-color photographic guide to North Atlantic seashore life: includes some 300 color photographs and illustrations; makes species identification quick and easy; covers more than 225 common intertidal species found from Canada to Cape Cod; covers rocky shores, sandy shores, mud beaches, and floating docks; tells how to explore safely and in an environmentally responsible way; and provides extensive information on some of the best places to visit in the Atlantic Northeast. The Naturalist’s Guide to the Atlantic Seashore: Beach Ecology from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras. Scott W. Shumway. 2008. Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, CT. 232 pp. $24.95, softcover. ISBN 9780762742370. Published under the Falcon Guides imprint, this is a comprehensive book that offers glimpses into ecology, wildlife, plantlife, and ocean creatures, and makes a great choice for all 522 Northeastern Naturalist Vol. 17, No.3 beachgoers. From tiny diatoms found in tide pools to giant baleen whales cruising the offshore waters, the species and habitats that make up the caharacter of the seashore are described in detail in this informative guide. The wide-reaching range of this book will make it popular from Maine to North Carolina as a great carry-along for summer beachgoers and year-round visitors interested in more than seashells and a sunburn. Freshwater Mussel Ecology: A Multifactor Approach to Distribution and Abundance. David L. Strayer. 2008. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 216 pp. $45, hardcover. ISBN 9780520255265. Pearly mussels (Unionoidea) live in lakes, rivers, and streams around the world. These bivalves play important roles in freshwater ecosystems and were once both culturally and economically valuable as sources of food, pearls, and mother-of-pearl. Today, however, hundreds of species of these mussels are extinct or endangered. David L. Strayer provides a critical synthesis of the factors that control the distribution and abundance of pearly mussels. Using empirical analyses and models, he assesses the effects of dispersal, habitat quality, availability of fish hosts, adequate food, predators, and parasites. He also addresses conservation issues that apply to other inhabitants of fresh waters around the globe and other pressing issues in contemporary ecology. The Northeastern Naturalist welcomes submissions of review copies of books that publishers or authors would like to recommend to the journal’s readership and are relevant to the journal’s mission of publishing information about the natural history of the northeastern US. Accompanying short, descriptive summaries of the text are also welcome.