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Noteworthy Books

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 15, Issue 2 (2016)

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Southeastern Naturalist B3 Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 The Last Beach. Orrin H. Pilkey Jr. and J. Andrew G. Cooper. 2014. Duke University Press, Durham, NC. 256 pp. $19.95, softcover, ISBN 9780822358091. The Last Beach is an urgent call to save the world’s beaches while there is still time. Geologists Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper sound the alarm in this frank assessment of our current relationship with beaches and their grim future if we do not change the way we understand and treat our irreplaceable shores. Combining case studies and anecdotes from around the world, they argue that many of the world’s developed beaches, including some in Florida and in Spain, are virtually doomed and that we must act immediately to save imperiled beaches. After explaining beaches as dynamic ecosystems, Pilkey and Cooper assess the harm done by dense oceanfront development accompanied by the construction of massive seawalls to protect new buildings from a shoreline that encroaches as sea levels rise. They discuss the toll taken by sand mining, trash that washes up on beaches, and pollution, which has contaminated not only the water but also, surprisingly, the sand. Acknowledging the challenge of reconciling our actions with our love of beaches, the geologists offer suggestions for reversing course, insisting that given the space, beaches can take care of themselves and provide us with multiple benefits. Amphibian Biology, Volume 11 Part 3: Status of Conservation and Decline of Amphibians: Eastern Hemisphere: Western Europe. Harold Heatwole and John W. Wilkinson (Editors). 2013. Pelafic Publishing Ltd, Exeter, UK. 118 pp., $99.99, softcover, ISBN 9781907807527. Amphibian Biology, Volume 11, Part 4: Status of Conservation and Decline of Amphibians: Eastern Hemisphere: Southern Europe and Turkey. Harold Heatwole and John W. Wilkinson (Editors). 2015. Pelafic Publishing Ltd, Exeter, UK. 172 pp., $116.99, softcover, ISBN 9781907807534. Amphibians are threatened by a number of factors around the globe, and the decimation of populations and loss of species is of major concern. These volumes are devoted to the causes of amphibian decline and to conservation measures in Western Europe (Britain, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, and Portugal) and Southern Europe and Turkey, respectively. Experts from each country describe the ecological background and the conservation status of affected species, with an emphasis on native species. This series will be of significant interest and use to amphibian research and conservation managers. The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal: The Secret Lives of Birds of the Southeastern Shore. John Yow. 2012. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 256 pp. $26.00, hardcover, ISBN 9780807835616. Following up on his earlier book, The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Birds, John Yow now journeys to the shore and shares his encounters with some of the most familiar and beloved coastal birds, with his distinctively witty, anecdotal, and disarming voice. Out of his travels—from North Carolina’s Outer Banks, down the Atlantic coast, and westward along the Gulf of Mexico—come colorful accounts of 28 species, from ubiquitous beach birds like Sanderlings and Laughing Gulls to not so common wonders of nature like Roseate Spoonbills and the American Avocets. Along the way, Yow delves deeply into the birds’ habits and behaviors, experiencing and relating the fascination that leads many an amateur naturalist to become the most unusual of species—a birder. Seasonally organized chapters explore the improbable, the wonderful, and the amusing aspects of these birds' lives. Yow embellishes his observations with field notes, anecdotes, and stories from some of America’s finest naturalists—including John James Audubon, Arthur Cleveland Bent, Rachel Carson, and Peter Matthiessen. Combining the endless fascination of bird life with the pleasure of good reading, The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal is the perfect companion for any nature lover’s next trip to the beach. Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia and Surrounding States. Linda G. Chafin. 2016. Published in cooperation with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia by The University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 488 pp., $32.95, softcover, ISBN 9780820348681. This is the first field guide devoted exclusively to Georgia’s wildflowers, while also including a large number of plants found in neighboring states. Organized in a clear and logical way, Linda G. Chafin’s guide is both scientific and accessible to those who aren’t professional botanists. The guide includes nontechnical species descriptions and comparisons with similar plants, information on Noteworthy Books Received by the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 15/2, 2015 Southeastern Naturalist Noteworthy Books 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 B4 the habitats and natural communities that support Georgia’s wildflowers, and suggestions for the best places and times to see wildflowers. The guide includes descriptions of the wildflowers found in forests, woodlands, and wetlands, as well as those growing along roadsides that are often dismissed as “weeds” but may first attract the attention of budding naturalists. Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia and Surrounding States features a large set of 750 thumbnail photographs that allows users to identify plants by flower color; detailed descriptions for 770 of the most common wildflowers found in Georgia and throughout most of the Southeast, as well as additional information for 530 “similar to” species; descriptions of the natural communities in Georgia where wildflowers may easily be seen; an alphabetical arrangement by plant family, with each plant family broken down alphabetically by genus and species; and a guide to the pronounciation of scientific names. This book is lightweight and sturdy for the field but inclusive enough for the reference shelf. As the name attests, this is a useful resource for birders throughout the Southeast, as 90% or more of the species in this guide occur in Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and 80% or more of the species in this guide occur in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia. Birds in Trouble. Lynn E. Barber. 2016. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. 224 pp. $29.95, softcover, ISBN 9781623493592. As oil was washing up on the shores of Louisiana, covering shorebirds and their nests and eggs after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Lynn Barber decided to write this book to heighten awareness, not only of the plight of bird species that are declining in numbers every year, but also of the ways in which the birds we see every day may also face the same fate. First explaining the idea of birds “in trouble”—and what that means in terms of population, conservation status, and national and international designations—the book then turns to the habitats that are important to birds, how they are affected by changes in these habitats, and what ordinary people can do to help counter those negative effects. Barber then profiles 42 species that are in trouble in the United States, discussing the likely reasons why and what, if anything, we can do to improve their situations. Illustrated throughout with the author’s signature bird art, the book closes with a reminder about what we can do to ensure that the birds we see every day in our yards, parks, and communities will remain with us. Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History. Dan L.Flores. 2016. Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, New York, NY. 271 pp. $27.50, hardcover, ISBN 9780465052998. With its uncanny night howls, unrivaled ingenuity, and amazing resilience, the Coyote is the stuff of legends. In Indian folktales, it often appears as a deceptive trickster or a sly genius. But legends don’t come close to capturing the incredible survival story of the Coyote. As soon as American settlors started ranching and herding in the West, they began working to destroy the Coyote. Despite campaigns of annihilation employing poisons, gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, Coyotes didn’t just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York’s Central Park. In the war between humans and Coyotes, Coyotes have won hands-down. Coyote America is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the Coyote. It traces both the fivemillion- year-long biological story of an animal that has become the “wolf” in our backyards, as well as its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the Coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse, with a pioneering hero whose career holds up an uncanny mirror to the successes and failures of American expansionism. An illuminating biography of this extraordinary animal, Coyote America isn’t just the story of an animal’s survival—it is one of the great epics of our time. 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.