nena masthead
NENA Home Staff & Editors For Readers For Authors

Noteworthy Books

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 23, Issue 2 (2016)

Pdf (Accessible only to subscribers. To subscribe click here.)


Access Journal Content

Open access browsing of table of contents and abstract pages. Full text pdfs available for download for subscribers.

Issue-in-Progress: Vol.30 (1) ... early view

Current Issue: Vol. 29 (4)
NENA 29(4)

All Regular Issues


Special Issues






JSTOR logoClarivate logoWeb of science logoBioOne logo EbscoHOST logoProQuest logo

Northeastern Naturalist Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 23, No. 2 B4 Oneida Lake: Long-term Dynamics of a Managed Ecosystem and Its Fishery. Lars G. Rudstam, Edward L. Mills, James R Jackson, and Donald J. Stewart. 2016. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. 541 pp. $79.00, softcover, ISBN 9781934874431. Studies on the fish populations, fisheries, and limnology of Oneida Lake, NY, started in the late 1950s at the Cornell University Biological Field Station. Early research concentrated on Walleye, Yellow Perch, and their interactions but was soon expanded to include interactions with the lake ecosystem, an early example of the ecosystem approach. Research on Oneida Lake has continued for 60 years, and the resulting data series that couples fish ecology and limnology is one of the best available anywhere. In this book, collaborators worldwide have contributed insights into the functioning of the lake’s ecology and fisheries, and by extension to the functioning of similar freshwater lakes elsewhere. The book is divided in three sections. The first set of chapters provides an historical and landscape context to the studies, the second set analyzes the long-term data, and the third set uses those data in modeling analyses. Thirty-eight: The Hurricane that Transformed New England. Stephen Long. 2016. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.272 pp. $27.50, hardcover, ISBN 9780300209518. The hurricane that pummeled the northeastern United States on 21 September 1938 was New England’s most damaging weather event ever. To call it “New England’s Katrina” might be to understate its power. Without warning, the storm plowed into Long Island and New England, killing hundreds of people and destroying roads, bridges, dams, and buildings that stood in its path. Not yet spent, the hurricane then raced inland, maintaining high winds into Vermont and New Hampshire and uprooting millions of acres of forest. This book is the first to investigate how the hurricane of ’38 transformed New England, bringing about social and ecological changes that can still be observed these many decades later. The hurricane’s impact was erratic—some swaths of forest were destroyed while others nearby remained unscathed; some stricken forests retain their prehurricane character, others have been transformed. Stephen Long explores these contradictions, drawing on survivors’ vivid memories of the storm and its aftermath and on his own familiarity with New England’s forests, where he discovers clues to the storm’s legacies even now. Thirty-Eight is a gripping story of a singularly destructive hurricane. It also provides important and insightful information on how best to prepare for the inevitable next great storm. Wildlife Habitat Conservation: Concepts, Challenges, and Solutions. Michael L Morrison and Heather A Mathewson (Editors). 2015. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 185 pp. $68.00, hardcover, ISBN 9781421416106. “Habitat” is probably the most common term in ecological research. Elementary school students are introduced to the term, college students study the concept in depth, hunters make their plans based on it, nature explorers chat about the different types, and land managers spend enormous time and money modifying and restoring habitats. Although a broad swath of people now have some notion of what habitat is—opening up ample opportunity for further education and conservation—the scientific community has by and large failed to define it concretely, despite repeated attempts in the literature to come to meaningful conclusions regarding what habitat is and how we should study, manipulate, and ultimately conserve it. Wildlife Habitat Conservation presents an up-to-date review of the habitat concept, provides a scientifically rigorous definition, and emphasizes how we must focus on those critical factors contained within what we call habitat. The result is a habitat concept that promises long-term persistence of animal populations. Key concepts and items in Wildlife Habitat Conservation include: the necessity of moving away from vague and inconsistent perspectives to more rigorous and standard conceptual definitions of wildlife and their habitat; a discussion of the essential integration of population demographics and population persistence with the concept of habitat; the importance of carry over and lag effects, behavioral processes, genetics, and species interactions to our understanding of habitat; an examination of spatiotemporal heterogeneity, realized through fragmentation, disruption to ecoevolutionary processes, and alterations to plant and animal assemblages; and an explanation of how anthropogenic effects alter population size and distribution (isolation), genetic processes, and species diversity (including exotic plants and animals). It includes advocacy of proactive conservation and management through predictive modeling, restoration, and monitoring. Each Noteworthy Books Received by the Northeastern Naturalist, Issue 23/2, 2016 Northeastern Naturalist B5 Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 23, No. 2 chapter is accessibly written in a style that will be welcomed by private land owners and public resource managers at local, state, and federal levels. Also ideal for undergraduate and graduate natural resource and conservation courses, Wildlife Habitat Conservation is organized perfectly for a one-semester class. Inventing Atmospheric Science: Bjerknes, Rossby, Wexler, and the Foundations of Modern Meteorology. James Rodger Fleming. 2016. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 312 pp. $31.00, hardcover, ISBN 9780262033947. “The goal of meteorology is to portray everything atmospheric, everywhere, always,” declared John Bellamy and Harry Wexler in 1960, soon after the successful launch of TIROS 1, the first weather satellite. Throughout the 20th century, meteorological researchers have had global ambitions, incorporating technological advances into their scientific study as they worked to link theory with practice. Wireless telegraphy, radio, aviation, nuclear tracers, rockets, digital computers, and Earth-orbiting satellites opened up entirely new research horizons for meteorologists. In this book, James Fleming charts the emergence of the interdisciplinary field of atmospheric science through the lives and careers of 3 key figures: Vilhelm Bjerknes (1862–1951), Carl-Gustaf Rossby (1898–1957), and Harry Wexler (1911–1962). In the early 20th century, Bjerknes worked to put meteorology on solid observational and theoretical foundations. His younger colleague, the innovative and influential Rossby, built the first graduate program in meteorology (at MIT), trained aviation cadets during World War II, and was a pioneer in numerical weather prediction and atmospheric chemistry. Wexler, one of Rossby’s best students, became head of research at the US Weather Bureau, where he developed new technologies from radar and rockets to computers and satellites, conducted research on the Antarctic ice sheet, and established carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. He was also the first meteorologist to fly into a hurricane—an experience he chose never to repeat. Fleming maps both the ambitions of an evolving field and the constraints that checked them—war, bureaucracy, economic downturns, and, most important, the ultimate realization (prompted by the formulation of chaos theory in the 1960s by Edward Lorenz) that perfectly accurate measurements and forecasts would never be possible. Sustainability. Kent E. Portney. 2015. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 248 pp. $15.95, softcover, ISBN 9780262528504. The word “sustainability” has been connected to everything from a certain kind of economic development to corporate promises about improved supply sourcing. But despite the apparent ubiquity of the term, the concept of sustainability has come to mean a number of specific things. In this accessible guide to the meanings of sustainability, Kent Portney describes the evolution of the idea and examines its application in a variety of contemporary contexts—from economic growth and consumption to government policy and urban planning. Portney takes as his starting point the 1987 definition by the World Commission on Environment and Development of sustainability as economic development activity that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” At its heart, Portney explains, sustainability focuses on the use and depletion of natural resources. It is not the same as environmental protection or natural resource conservation; it is more about finding some sort of steady state so that the earth can support both human population and economic growth. Portney looks at political opposition to the promotion of sustainability, which usually questions the need for sustainability or calls its costs unacceptable; collective and individual consumption of material goods and resources and to what extent they must be curtailed to achieve sustainability; the role of the private sector, and the co-opting of sustainability by corporations; government policy on sustainability at the international, national, and subnational levels; and how cities could become models for sustainability action. In Pursuit of Wild Edibles: A Forager’s Tour. Jeffrey Greene. 2016. University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA. 200 pp. $24.95, softcover, ISBN 9780813938578. Today we care about the source of our food as much as the preparation, so it is no surprise that foodies have discovered wild edibles. From the most upscale restaurants in New York to humble farm stays in Europe, chefs and restaurant-goers alike are seeking pleasure in food found in the wild. In Pursuit of Wild Edibles: A Forager’s Tour tells the story of one man passionate about finding wild edibles and creating recipes to highlight their unique flavors. An American expatriate, poet, and gourmet living in France, Jeffrey Greene has scoured Northeastern Naturalist Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 23, No. 2 B6 the fields, rivers, and beaches of Europe and his native New England in search of foods ranging from puffballs and periwinkles to stone pine nuts and gooseneck barnacles. For many, foraging is the latest trend in foodie culture, but for Greene this journey stretches back to his childhood, when his parents fled New York City to a shack-like house in rural Connecticut. Convinced they could live off the land, the family raised goats, planted gardens, gathered seafood at the nearby coast, and foraged for food from the woods. Inspired by these childhood experiences, Greene and his wife, Mary, bought and restored an old priory in rural Burgundy. Surrounded by forests, they learned to identify mushrooms and greens, and devoted themselves to inventing recipes for them. Thus began a pursuit that took Greene to the Polish Carpathians, the Appennines overlooking the Ligurian coast, the shores of Normandy and Brittany, and to Plymouth, MA, where the Pilgrims eked out their first winter in near starvation. Greene’s captivating book offers experienced foragers and novices alike an extensive sampling of his own recipes and a chance to come along with him on his international adventures. From razor clams and wild sea urchins, to young nettles and dandelion greens, to wild strawberries and cherries, Greene showcases the beauty of what one can cook up in a truly wild recipe. The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio. Paul G. Rodewald, Matthew B. Shumar, Aaron T. Boone, David L. Slager, and Jim Mc- Cormac (Editors). 2016. Pennsylvania State University Press. 600 pp. $64.95, hard cover, ISBN:9780271071275 . Twenty-five years after the publication of the state's first breeding bird atlas, The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio brings our knowledge of the state's bird populations up to date and provides important new information. The Atlas documents the current distribution and changes in status for more than two hundred bird species in Ohio, including five new breeding species and five species not known to have bred in over fifty years. More than nine hundred dedicated birdwatchers completed surveys of birds across the state from 2006 to 2011. In addition, trained staff collected new data on bird abundance using point-count surveys. These counts tabulated not only species but individual birds as well, enabling precise estimates of the actual statewide populations for many of the breeding species detected. In all, more than one million bird records were compiled by birders and professional researchers for the second Atlas, providing an unprecedented snapshot of the bird life of Ohio. The introductory chapters describe and discuss recent changes in climate and bird habitats within Ohio. The bulk of The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio contains comprehensive and authoritative accounts of each species, illustrated by stunning full-color photographs. Species maps show in fine detail the birds' distribution, habitat, and range, and, for nearly one hundred species, their abundance in Ohio. This Atlas will aid and inform researchers and birders for years to come. Cells to Civilizations. Enrico Coen. 2013. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 322 pp. $19.95, softcover, ISBN 9780691165608. Cells to Civilizations is the first unified account of how life transforms itself—from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations. What are the connections between evolving microbes, an egg that develops into an infant, and a child who learns to walk and talk? Award-winning scientist Enrico Coen synthesizes the growth of living systems and creative processes, and he reveals that the 4 great life transformations— evolution, development, learning, and human culture—while typically understood separately, actually all revolve around shared core principles and manifest the same fundamental recipe. Coen blends provocative discussion, the latest scientific research, and colorful examples to demonstrate the links between these critical stages in the history of life. Coen tells a story rich with genes, embryos, neurons, and fascinating discoveries. He examines the development of the Zebra, the adaptations of seaweed, the cave paintings of Lascaux, and the formulations of Alan Turing. He explores how dogs make predictions, how weeds tell the time of day, and how our brains distinguish a Modigliani from a Rembrandt. Locating commonalities in important findings, Coen gives readers a deeper understanding of key transformations and provides a bold portrait for how science both frames and is framed by human culture. A compelling investigation into the relationships between our biological past and cultural progress, Cells to Civilizations presents a remarkable story of living change. Bogs and Fens: A Guide to the Peatland Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Ronald B. Davis. 2016. University Press of New England, Lebanon, NH. 304 pp., Northeastern Naturalist B7 Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 23, No. 2 $24.06, softcover, ISBN 9781611687934. The word is spreading among outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers that bogs and fens (peatlands) are among the most fascinating and beautiful places to visit. This growing reputation, along with the development of boardwalks that allow a close look at the ecosystem without getting one’s feet wet or disturbing the habitat, has led to an upsurge in visits to these wetlands. To aid the increasing number of bog walkers, Ronald B. Davis has produced an attractive and informative guide to the trees, shrubs, and windflowers of the peat lands of the greater American northeastern region. This book covers 155 of the species most likely to be discovered alongside the board walks and presents stunning photographs of 98 of them. It includes a primer on the ecology of peat lands and offers an invaluable guide to 78 peat lands with board walks across the region. This essential guide to the wonders of the bog trails will appeal to board walk newbies and old pros alike. Working with Your Woodland: A Landowner’s Guide . Mollie Beattie and Charles Thompson. 1993. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH. 302 pp. $29.95, paperback, ISBN 9780874516227. Packed with information and illustrations, Working with Your Woodland has given woodland owners all the basics necessary for making key decisions since it was first published in 1983. The revised edition reflects the fundamental changes in the way private woodlands are viewed. In today’s world, they are viewed as part of a larger continuous habitat rather than as owner-managed islands. Few owners are aware of the wide spectrum of compatible management objectives—such as encouragement of wildlife, development for recreation, and enhancement of scenic beauty—that can coexist with the more familiar timber and firewood potential of forested areas. Even fewer understand the purpose, techniques, environmental impacts, economics, or legalities of forest management. This guide provides key the technological, environmental, tax, and legal concerns associated with woodland management. Information is included that focuses on areas of special concern such as wetlands management, global warming, acid deposition, and rare or endangered species. The House of Owls. Tony Angell. 2015. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 203 pp. $30.00, hardcover, ISBN 9780300203448. For a quarter century, Tony Angell and his family shared the remarkable experience of closely observing pairs of Western Screech Owls that occupied a nesting box outside their forest home. The journals the author recorded his observations in, and the captivating drawings he created, form the heart of this compelling book—a personal account of an artist-naturalist’s life with owls. Angell’s extensive illustrations show owls engaged in what owls do—hunting, courting, raising families, and exercising their inquisitive natures—and reveal his immeasurable respect for their secret lives and daunting challenges. Angell provides species profiles of all North America’s owls—information on their range, foraging, habitat, and breeding biology. He constructs them as engagingly as anyone could, weaving in personal observations and anecdotes. He is at his best, though, when flying free, giving unique insights gained from his own experience. Despite its eagle size, a Great Gray Owl weighs less than 4 pounds. Mr. Angell’s assessment: “Holding the body of a Great Gray Owl is similar to holding a big down pillow with a fresh sweet potato in the middle of it.” On the Saw-whet Owl’s vocalizations: “‘Chuck’ appears to be an expression of disgruntlement or dismissiveness, expressed when a captured bird is released.” Who knows that but someone who has held these birds in his very hands? Anecdote from direct observation of wild creatures remains the backbone of good natural-history writing. Angell explores the possibility that owls feel emotion with an array of revealing anecdotes. A Short-eared Owl, robbed of its prey by a Harrier, screams in apparent frustration, rises high in the sky, then strafes an innocent bystander—a Rough-legged Hawk—sending feathers flying. A burrowing owl hiding underground perfectly imitates the buzz of a rattlesnake, discouraging the author from reaching into its retreat. In one of the author’s best recitations, a Western Screech Owl nesting in his backyard is dozing when a Swainson’s Thrush begins to sing in the nearby forest. The owl’s eyes grow wide as it snapped fully alert. It flies swiftly toward the sound and returns with the olive-brown singer, a now-silent offering to its mate and young. Western Screech Owls are the stars of Angell’s narrative, as 5 different pairs having nested in a box in his backyard from 1970 to 1994. An easy familiarity grew between the owls and the Angell family as they watched the drama of courtship, nesting, and fledging play out, summer after summer. Perhaps 50 young Screech Owls fledged from this nest box, and the Northeastern Naturalist Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 23, No. 2 B8 detritus left in it helped the author form a dietary profile of the species that would be difficult to obtain any other way. Who would think that parent owls would arrive at the nest, “beaks bristling with Carpenter Ants, delivering food 2 to 3 times an hour?” Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife. John M. Marzluff, with illustrations by Jack Delap. 2014. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 320 pp. $15.39, hardcover, ISBN 9780300197075. Welcome to Subirdia presents a surprising discovery: the suburbs of many large cities support incredible biological diversity. Populations and communities of a great variety of birds, as well as other creatures, are adapting to the conditions of our increasingly developed world. In this fascinating and optimistic book, John Marzluff reveals how our own actions affect the birds and animals that live in our cities and towns, and he provides 10 specific strategies everyone can use to make human environments friendlier for our natural neighbors. Over many years of research and fieldwork, Marzluff and student assistants have closely followed the lives of thousands of tagged birds seeking food, mates, and shelter in cities and surrounding areas. From tiny Pacific Wrens to grand Pileated Woodpeckers, diverse species now compatibly share human surroundings. By practicing careful stewardship with the biological riches in our cities and towns, Marzluff explains, we can foster a new relationship between humans and other living creatures—one that honors and enhances our mutual destiny. Wild Soundscapes Discovering the Voice of the Natural World. Bernard L Krause. 2016. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 240 pp. $18.00, softcover, ISBN 9780300218190. Through his organization Wild Sanctuary, Bernie Krause has traveled the globe to hear and record the sounds of diverse natural habitats. Wild Soundscapes, first published in 2002, inspires readers to follow in Krause’s footsteps. The book enchantingly shows how to find creature symphonies (or, as Krause calls them, “biophonies”); use simple microphones to hear more; and record, mix, and create new expressions with the gathered sounds. After reading this book, readers will feel compelled to investigate a wide range of habitats and animal sounds, from the conversations of birds and howling sand dunes to singing anthills. This rewritten and updated edition explains the newest technological advances and research, encouraging readers to understand the earth’s soundscapes in ways previously unimaginable. With links to the sounds that are discussed in the text, this accessible and engaging guide to natural soundscapes will captivate amateur naturalists, field recordists, musicians, and anyone else who wants to fully appreciate the sounds of our natural world. Hubbard Brook The Story of a Forest Ecosystem. Richard T. Holmes, Gene E. Likens. 2016. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 288 pp., $45.00, hard cover, ISBN: 9780300203646. For more than 50 years, the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire has been one of the most intensely studied landscapes on earth. This book highlights many of the important ecological findings amassed during the long-term research conducted there, and considers their regional, national, and global implications. Richard T. Holmes and Gene E. Likens, active members of the research team at Hubbard Brook since its beginnings, explain the scientific processes employed in the forestturned- laboratory. They describe such important findings as the discovery of acid rain, ecological effects of forest management practices, and the causes of population change in forest birds, as well as how disturbance events, pests and pathogens, and a changing climate affect forest and associated aquatic ecosystems. The authors show how such long-term, place-based ecological studies are relevant for informing many national, regional, and local environmental issues, such as air pollution, water quality, ecosystem management, and conservation. The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio. Maine Mosses: Sphagnaceae, Timmiaceae. Bruce Hampton Allen; Lewis Edward Anderson; Ronald A Pursell; Paul L Redfearn. 2010. The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY. 419 pp. $177.16, hardcover, ISBN 9780893274719. Maine Mosses: Drummondiaceae - Polytrichaceae. Bruce Hampton Allen. 2014. Bronx, The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY. 607 pp. $146.00, hardcover, ISBN 9780893275273. “Joyful” was Bruce Allen's experience working on Maine Mosses, a project born nearly 4 deNortheastern Naturalist B9 Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 23, No. 2 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. cades ago. In the first volume, families Sphagnaceae through Timmiaceae, are keyed, illustrated, and described in detail, including coverage of 23 famiiles, 72 genera, and 231 species. The second and final part covers the remaining moss tax found in Maine, with a large majority of the species belonging to one of the largest moss groups in the world: the Hypnales. Thanks to Maine‘s moss diversity, this well illustrated guide will be helpful in much of northeastern North America. The quintessential guide if you are familiar with moss structure and identification procedures. Freshwater algae of North America: Ecology and Classification. John D. Wehr, Robert G. Sheath, and John Patrick Kociolek. 2015. Elsevier Academic Press, London, UK. 1050 pp. $167.40, hardcover, ISBN 9780123858764. this text is an authoritative and practical treatise on the classification, biodiversity, and ecology of all known genera of freshwater algae from North America. It provides essential taxonomic and ecological information about one of the most diverse and ubiquitous groups of organisms on earth. This single volume brings together experts on all the groups of algae that occur in fresh waters (also soils, snow, and extreme inland environments). In the decade since the first edition, there has been an explosion of new information on the classification, ecology, and biogeography of many groups of algae, with the use of molecular techniques and renewed interest in biological diversity. Accordingly, this new edition covers updated classification information of most algal groups and the reassignment of many genera and species, as well as new research on harmful algal blooms. America’s Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake. Ted Levin. 2016. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL. 520 pp. $35.00, hardcover, ISBN 9780226040646. There’s no sound quite like it, or as viscerally terrifying: the ominous rattle of the Timber Rattlesnake. It’s a chilling shorthand for imminent danger, and a reminder of the countless ways that nature can suddenly snuff us out. Yet most of us have never seen a Timber Rattlesnake. Though they’re found in thirty-one states, and near many major cities, Timber Rattlesnakes are creatures mostly of imagination and innate fear in contemporary America. Ted Levin aims to change that with America’s Snake, a portrait of the Timber Rattlesnake, its place in America’s pantheon of creatures and in our own frontier history—and of the heroic efforts to protect it against habitat loss, climate change, and the human tendency to kill what we fear. Taking us from labs where the secrets of the snake’s evolutionary history are being unlocked to far-flung habitats whose locations are fiercely protected by biologists and dedicated amateur herpetologists alike, Levin paints a picture of a fascinating creature: peaceable, social, long-lived, and, despite our phobias, not inclined to bite. The Timber Rattlesnake emerges here as emblematic of America and also, unfortunately, of the complicated, painful struggles involved in protecting and preserving the natural world. A wonderful mix of natural history, travel writing, and exemplary journalism, America’s Snake is loaded with remarkable characters—none more so than the snake at its heart: frightening, perhaps; endangered, certainly; and unquestionably unforgettable.