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Noteworthy Books received by the Southeastern Naturalist

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 13, Issue 1 (2014): B1–B5

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B1 Noteworthy Books 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 13, No. 1 Amphibians and Reptiles of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida: A Natural History. Charles LeBuff and Chris Lechowicz. 2014. Amber Publishing, Fort Myers, FL. 304 pp. $20.72, softcover. ISBN 9780962501340. This title summarizes more than a fifty-year study of the herpetofauna of Southwest Florida and in particular the two famous barrier islands. All amphibians and reptiles that have been documented on Sanibel and Captiva islands are included, and a four-species supplemental list is appended for historical purposes. Totally unlike contemporary books on the subject, the authors do not consider their title to be an ordinary field guide, but a readable reference book that brings history and biology into perspective. Amphibians and Reptiles of Sanibel and Captiva Islands Florida: A Natural History is a crowning achievement for the authors and a major contribution to the herpetology of Florida. According to LeBuff, “This is unlike any book I have in my library. Chris and I worked hard to make it that way and put it on the leading edge of amphibian and reptile books. As anyone who knows our work can imagine, it contains much information on sea turtles, crocodilians, venomous snakes, and environmental changes.” The authors called on Bill Love and Daniel Parker, both wellknown herpetological photographers, to photograph animals for their book. Both men contributed their finest work, and the result is remarkable. Other professionals also offered images to ensure the completeness of this book. For example, images of the frogs and toads include the larval stages of each (their tadpoles), hatchling turtles (including the five local sea turtle species) are included with the adults in their respective species account, and neonate snakes that undergo pattern or color changes as they become adults are also represented. The Billfish Story: Swordfish, Sailfish, Marlin, and Other Gladiators of the Sea. Stan Ulanski. 2013. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 232 pp. $26.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780820341910. The billfish is fixed at the apex of the oceanic food chain. Composed of sailfish, marlin, spearfish, and swordfish, they roam the pelagic waters of the Atlantic and are easily recognized by their long, spear-like beaks. Noted for their speed, size, and acrobatic jumps, billfish have for centuries inspired a broad spectrum of society. Even in antiquity, Aristotle, who assiduously studied the swordfish, named this gladiator of the sea xiphias—the sword. The Billfish Story tells the saga of this unique group of fish and those who have formed bonds with them—relationships forged by anglers, biologists, charter-boat captains, and conservationists through their pursuit, study, and protection of these species. More than simply reciting important discoveries, Stan Ulanski argues passionately that billfish occupy a position of unique importance in our culture as a nexus linking natural and human history. Ulanski, both a scientist and an angler, brings a rich background to the subject in a multifaceted approach that will enrich readers’ appreciation of not only billfish but the whole of the natural world. American Alligators: Ancient Predator in the Modern World. Kelby Ouchley. 2013. University Press of Florida, Gainsville, FL. 160 pp. $19.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780813049137. Having survived since the Mesozoic era, alligators teetered on the brink of extinction in the 1960s. Their recovery in the 1970s and 1980s was largely due to legislative intervention, and today populations are closely monitored throughout their range. American Alligator is the most up-to-date and comprehensive treatment of this resilient relic, a creature with a brain weighing less than half an ounce that has successfully adapted to a changing Earth for more than 200 million years. Kelby Ouchley chronicles the evolution of Alligator mississippiensis from "shieldcroc"--the last common ancestor of modern-day alligators, crocodiles, caimans, and the gharial--to its current role as keystone of the ecological health of America’s southern swamps and marshes. In Florida, the apex predator uses its snout and feet to clear muck from holes in the limestone bedrock. During the dry season, these small ponds or "alligator holes" provide refuge, food, and water for a variety of wildlife. In Louisiana, millions of dollars are spent on the bounty of the non-native nutria that overgraze marsh vegetation, but alligators prey on these coastal rodents free of charge. Today only twenty-three species of crocodilians remain. That the alligator lineage survives at all, having successfully weathered millions of years of environmental change, speaks to an impressive degree of fitness and adaptability. The loss of the American alligator would be a blow to biodiversity and an ecosystem disruption affecting all levels of the food chain. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed it from the endangered species list in 1987 and today regulates the legal trade of the animal and its products, Ouchley cautions us not to forget the lessons learned: human activities, from urban development to energy production, can still threaten the future of the gator and its southern wetland habitat. Noteworthy Books Received by the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 13/1, 2014 Noteworthy Books 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 13, No. 1 B2 The Map Turtle and Sawback Atlas: Ecology, Evolution, Distribution, and Conservation. Peter V. Lindeman. 2013. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK. 288 pp. $45.00, hardcover. ISBN 9780806144061. Covering all facets of the biology of a little-known genus, Peter V. Lindeman’s lavishly illustrated Map Turtle and Sawback Atlas is both a scientific treatise and an engaging introduction to a striking group of turtles. Map turtles and sawbacks, found in and along rivers from Texas to Florida and north to the Great Lakes, fascinate ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Over a short geologic time span, these turtles achieved exceptional biological diversification. Their diets are also exceptionally diverse, and a significant difference in size distinguishes males from females. Adult males are typically half or less the shell length of adult females, making map turtles and sawbacks the champions of sexual dimorphism among not only turtles but all four-legged vertebrates. Aesthetics also draw biologists and hobbyists to map turtles and sawbacks. While the male Sabine map turtle may look to some like a “pencil-necked geek,” as the author puts it, markings on the shell, limbs, head, and neck make map turtles among the most attractive turtles on earth. Sawbacks feature a striking ridge down their shell. Few turtles show themselves off to such advantage. Photographs included here of Graptemys basking poses reveal to what improbable heights these turtles can scale, the spread-eagle sunning stances they adopt, the stacking of individuals on a crowded site, and the heads that warily watch the world above the waterline. In lively prose, Lindeman details the habitat, diet, reproduction and life history, natural history, and population abundance of each species. A section on conservation status summarizes official state, federal, and international designations for each species, along with efforts toward population management and recovery as well as habitat preservation. The author also outlines promising avenues for future research, ranging from the effects of global climate change on populations to strategies for combating expansion of the pet trade. Cave Life of Oklahoma and Arkansas: Exploration and Conservation of Subterranean Biodiversity. G. O. Graening, Dante B. Fenolio, and Michael E. Slay. 2012. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK. 248 pp. $34.95, softcover. ISBN 9780806144245. Speleobiology, the study of cave life, is a relatively new science. The diversity of species that live in caves, springs, and aquifers is just beginning to be documented, and much of the underground world has yet to be explored. The surveys of cave life reported in this book represent an important step forward in understanding the biodiversity of caves in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The project whose research led to the publication of Cave Life of Oklahoma and Arkansas began in the 1970s as a study of Ozark cavefish and expanded to encompass two states and involve a number of research topics and collaborators. The authors and their team donned snorkeling gear, cave suits, and climbing harnesses and descended into caves in Oklahoma and Arkansas to study, inventory, and photograph this hidden world. The result is a comprehensive checklist of the region’s cave fauna, complete with descriptions of these rare animals’ distribution and ecological niches. The cast of characters ranges from familiar and charismatic species, such as cave crayfish and gray bats, to rare and bizarre fauna, such as blind salamanders and cave dung beetles. More than 175 full-color illustrations include stunning, never-before-seen photographs (from the cameras of Dave Bunnel, Tim Ernst, and Danté B. Fenolio, among others) of cave animals—even some newly discovered species. The authors also address conservation of subterranean biodiversity, discussing not only threats to cave life such as invasive species, resource extraction, and habitat loss, but also current methods of preservation and protection, including legislation, land acquisition, people management, and cave gates. The book’s appendices provide a comprehensive cave bibliography and checklists of subterranean animals for each cave. Speleology is critical to science. Subterranean organisms are key indicators of groundwater quality, and their adaptations can lead to advances in medicine. Cave Life of Oklahoma and Arkansas advances our knowledge of, and can thus help us save, subterranean ecosystems—among the world’s last frontiers. Terra Incognita: An Annotated Bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains, 1544–1934. Anne Bridges, Russell Clement, and Ken Wise. 2014. University of Tennesee Press, Knoxville, TN. 440 pp. $83.00, hardcover. ISBN 1572334789. Terra Incognita is the most comprehensive bibliography of sources related to the Great Smoky Mountains ever created. Compiled and edited by three librarians, this authoritative and meticulously researched work is an indispensable reference for scholars and students studying any aspect of the region’s past. Starting with the de Soto map of 1544, the earliest document that purports to describe anything about the Great Smoky Mountains, and continuing through B3 Noteworthy Books 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 13, No. 1 1934 with the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—today the most visited national park in the United States—this volume catalogs books, periodical and journal articles, selected newspaper reports, government publications, dissertations, and theses published during that period. This bibliography treats the Great Smoky Mountain Region in western North Carolina and east Tennessee systematically and extensively in its full historic and social context. Prefatory material includes a timeline of the Great Smoky Mountains and a list of suggested readings on the era covered. The book is divided into thirteen thematic chapters, each featuring an introductory essay that discusses the nature and value of the materials in that section. Following each overview is an annotated bibliography that includes full citation information and a bibliographic description of each entry. Chapters cover the history of the area; the Cherokee in the Great Smoky Mountains; the national forest movement and the formation of the national park; life in the locality; Horace Kephart, perhaps the most important chronicler to document the mountains and their inhabitants; natural resources; early travel; music; literature; early exploration and science; maps; and recreation and tourism. Sure to become a standard resource on this rich and vital region, Terra Incognita is an essential acquisition for all academic and public libraries and a boundless resource for researchers and students of the region. The Land Between the Lakes: A Geography of the Forgotten Future. Ronald A. Foresta. 2013. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. 293 pp. $67.00, hardcover. ISBN 1572338636. Between Barkley and Kentucky Lakes—two great, artificial bodies of water in western Tennessee and western Kentucky—lies a wooded land that looks from above like the flattened thumb of a green giant. Once a land of marginal farms and small settlements, this 240-square-mile peninsula, known as the Land Between the Lakes, has been a national recreation area for the last half-century. Its rolling, wooded hills and open bottomlands give the place charm but little majesty. The place swallows up its few campgrounds and visitors they attracts, creating a vacuous tranquility. In this volume, Foresta explores how this forgotten and bypassed region became a national recreation area. He uses its history to retrieve our old attitudes toward nature, progress, and personal development. He also uses its history to retrieve a vision of the future that rallied idealists, intellectuals, and even public officials to its banner. In the early 1960s, the Tennessee Valley Authority set out to create a great park for posterity at the Land Between the Lakes. The park was to host the vast stretches of leisure that wealthy, secure, and more equal Americans of the late 20th and early 21st centuries would have at their disposal. It would be a place where such Americans could turn that leisure into happiness, psychic well-being, and strength of character. The TVA cleared the land of its inhabitants to create the park, removing people from their homes and severing their roots, thus effacing the history of the place. It then set about reshaping the land in the image of an anticipated future. But when that future never arrived, managers struggled to fit the place to the America that actually came into being. In the end they failed, leaving the Land Between the Lakes enveloped in a haunting sense of emptiness. A deft blend of environmental history, geography, politics, and cultural history, Land Between the Lakes demonstrates both the idealism of midtwentieth- century planners and how quickly such idealism can fall out of alignment with the flow of history. In so doing, it explores a forgotten vision of the future that was in many ways more appealing than the present that came into being in its place. The Last Billion Years: A Geologic History of Tennessee. Don W. Byerly. 2013. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. 193 pp. $29.95, soft cover. ISBN 1572339748. Tennessee’s geologic history has evolved in myriad ways since its initial formation more than a billion years ago, settling into its current place on the North American supercontinent between 300 and 250 million years ago. Throughout that long span of “deep time”, Tennessee’s landscape morphed into its present form. The Last Billion Years: A Geologic History of Tennessee is the first general overview in more than thirty years to interpret the state’s geological record. With minimal jargon, numerous illustrations and photographs, and a glossary of scientific terms, this volume provides the tools necessary for readers with little or no background in the subject to learn about the geologic formation of Tennessee, making it an excellent resource for high school students, college students, and interested general readers. Yet, because of the depth of its scholarship, the book is also an invaluable reference for professional geologists. Recognizing that every reader is familiar with the roles of wind, water, gravity, and organisms in their everyday environment, author Don Byerly employs the Earth Systems Science approach, showing how the five interacting parts of the Earth—the geosphere, hydrosphere, Noteworthy Books 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 13, No. 1 B4 atmosphere, biosphere, and cryosphere—have worked together for eons to generate the rock compositions that make up Tennessee’s geologic past. All regions of the state are covered. Featuring a unique time chart that illustrates the state’s geologic history from east to west, The Last Billion Years shows that while the geologic aspects of the state’s three grand divisions are related in many ways, each division has a distinctly different background. The organization of the book further enhances its usability, allowing the reader to see and compare what was happening contemporaneously across the state during the key sequences of its geologic history. Written in a clear and engaging style, The Last Billion Years will have broad appeal to students, lay readers, and professionals. Painting the Landscape With Fire: Longleaf Pines and Fire Ecology. Den Latham. 2013. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 224 pp. $29.95, hardcover. ISBN 9781611172423. Fire can be a destructive, deadly element of nature, capable of obliterating forests, destroying homes, and taking lives. Den Latham’s Painting the Landscape with Fire describes this phenomenon but also tells a different story, one that reveals the role of fire ecology in healthy, dynamic forests. Fire is a beneficial element that allows the Longleaf forests of America’s Southeast to survive. In recent decades, foresters and landowners have become intensely aware of the need to “put enough fire on the ground” to preserve Longleaf habitat for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Quail, Wild Turkeys, and a host of other plants and animals. Painting the Landscape with Fire is a hands-on primer for understanding the role of fire in Longleaf forests. Latham joins wildlife biologists, foresters, wildfire fighters, and others as they band and translocate endangered birds, survey snake populations, improve wildlife habitat, and conduct prescribed burns on public and private lands. Painting the Landscape with Fire explores the unique Southern biosphere of longleaf forests. Throughout, Latham beautifully tells the story of the resilience of these woodlands and of the resourcefulness of those who work to see them thrive. Fire is destructive in the case of accidents, arson, or poor policy, but with the right precautions and safety measures, it is the glowing life force that these forests need. Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity. R. Scot Duncan. 2013. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL. 464 pp. $29.95, softcover. ISBN 9780817357504. Southern Wonder explores Alabama’s amazing biological diversity, the reasons for the large number of species in the state, and the importance of their preservation. Alabama ranks fifth in the nation in number of species of plants and animals found in the state, surpassed only by the much larger western states of California,Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Alabama is particularly rich in aquatic biodiversity, leading the nation in species of freshwater fishes, turtles, mussels, crayfish, snails, damselflies, and carnivorous plants. The state also hosts an exceptional number of endemic species—those not found beyond its borders—ranking seventh in the nation with 144 species. The state’s 4533 species, with more being inventoried and discovered each year, are supported by no less than 64 distinct ecological systems—each a unique blend of soil, water, sunlight, heat, and natural disturbance regimes. Habitats include dry forests, moist forests, swamp forests, sunny prairies, grassy barrens, scorching glades, rolling dunes, and bogs filled with pitcher plants and sundews. The state also includes a region of subterranean ecosystems that are more elaborate and species rich than any other place on the continent. Although Alabama is teeming with life, the state’s prominence as a refuge for plants and animals is poorly appreciated. Even among Alabama’s citizens, few outside a small circle of biologists, advocates, and other naturalists understand the special quality of the state’s natural heritage. R. Scot Duncan rectifies this situation in Southern Wonder by providing a well-written, comprehensive overview that the general public, policy makers, and teachers can understand and use. Readers are taken on an exploratory journey of the state’s varied landscapes—from the Tennessee River Valley to the coastal dunes—and are introduced to remarkable species, such as the Cave Salamander and the Beach Mouse. By interweaving the disciplines of ecology, evolution, meteorology, and geology into an accessible whole, Duncan explains clearly why Alabama is so biotically rich and champions efforts for its careful preservation. Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas: With Keys, Taxonomic Synopses, Bibliography, and Distribution Maps. James R. Dixon. 2013. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. 460 pp. $39.95, softcover. ISBN 9781603447348. This third edition of James R. Dixon’s Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas, completely redesigned throughout with color photographs, revised taxonomic keys, and updated species descriptions, covers more than two hundred species of amphibians and reptiles. B5 Noteworthy Books 2013 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 13, No. 1 The Southeastern 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 southeastern US. Accompanying short, descriptive summaries of the text are also welcome. Errata: In the third line down from the top of page 699 within print issue 12-4 of the Southeastern Naturalist, the authors of “Feeding Behavior of Captive-Reared Juvenile Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii)” incorrectly provided Papilio glaucus L. as the scientific name and authority for the Glaucous-winged Gull. Larus glaucescens J.F. Naumann is the true taxonomic designation for that species. The correction has been made in the online versions of that issue. As in the previous editions, the book includes an extensive listing of the literature on Texas amphibians and reptiles that goes back to the historic writings of Berlandier, in the early nineteenth century, and is updated to reflect the most recent research. Comprehensive distribution maps, updated references, and an exhaustive bibliography round out this latest edition of what has come to be widely recognized as the standard scientific guide and reference for professional, academic, and amateur naturalists interested in the herpatofauna of Texas. Sharks and People: Exploring Our Relationship with the Most Feared Fish in the Sea. Thomas P. Peschak. 2013. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 256 pp. $45.00, hardcover. ISBN 9780226047898. At once feared and revered, sharks have captivated people since our earliest human encounters. Children and adults alike stand awed before aquarium shark tanks, fascinated by the giant teeth and unnerving eyes. And no swim in the ocean is undertaken without a slight shiver of anxiety about the very real—and very cinematic—dangers of shark bites. But our interactions with sharks are not entirely one-sided: the threats we pose to sharks through fisheries, organized hunts, and gill nets on coastlines are more deadly and far-reaching than any bite. In Sharks and People, acclaimed wildlife photographer Thomas Peschak presents stunning photographs that capture the relationship between people and sharks around the globe. A contributing photographer to National Geographic, Peschak is best known for his unusual photographs of sharks—his iconic image of a great white shark following a researcher in a small yellow kayak is one of the most recognizable shark photographs in the world. The other images gathered here are no less riveting, bringing us as close as possible to sharks in the wild. Alongside the photographs, Sharks and People tells the compelling story of the natural history of sharks. Sharks have roamed the oceans for more than four hundred million years, and in this time they have never stopped adapting to the ever-changing world—their unique cartilage skeletons and array of super-senses mark them as one of the most evolved groups of animals. Scientists have recently discovered that sharks play an important role in balancing the ocean, including maintaining the health of coral reefs. Yet, tens of millions of sharks are killed every year just to fill the demand for shark fin soup alone. Today more than sixty species of sharks, including Hammerhead, Mako, and Oceanic White-tip Sharks, are listed as vulnerable or in danger of extinction. The need to understand the significant part sharks play in the oceanic ecosystem has never been so urgent, and Peschak’s photographs bear witness to the thrilling strength and unique attraction of sharks. They are certain to enthrall and inspire. Penguins: The Animal Answer Guide. Gerald L. Kooyman and Wayne Lynch. 2013. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 192 pp. $26.95, softcover. ISBN 9781421410517. Flightless, iconic birds made even more famous by the 2005 film March of the Penguins, penguins conjure up images of caring parents, devoted couples, and tough survivors. In Penguins: The Animal Answer Guide, Gerald L. Kooyman and Wayne Lynch inform readers about all seventeen species, including the Emperor Penguin featured in the film. Do you know why penguins live only in the Southern Hemisphere? Or that they can be ferocious predators? Why are penguins black and white? Do they play? This book answers these questions and many more, illuminating the fascinating biology and evolutionary history of these odd birds. Kooyman has studied penguins for decades, and Lynch's photographs of penguins in the wild are the best ever captured. The result of their combined effort is a book that answers every penguin question you've ever had. Whether you hope to travel to the Southern Hemisphere or simply want to learn more about wildlife, Penguins: The Animal Answer Guide deserves a spot on your bookshelf.