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Noteworthy Books

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 17, Issue 4 (2018): B2

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Southeastern Naturalist B3 Noteworthy Books 2018 Vol. 17, No. 4 Herping Texas: The Quest for Reptiles and Amphibians. Michael Smith and Clint King. 2018. Texas A & M University Press, College Station, TX. 336 pp. $30.00, softcover. ISBN 9781623496647. While many people go out of their way to avoid snakes or shudder at the thought of touching a toad, herpers take to the field armed with cameras, hooks, and notebooks hoping to come across a Horned Lizard, Green Tree Frog, or even a Diamondback Rattlesnake. In Herping Texas: The Quest for Reptiles and Amphibians, Michael Smith and Clint King, expert naturalists and field herpers, take readers on their adventures across the state as they search for favorite herps and rare finds. Part nature travel writing and part guide to field herping, Herping Texas also includes a section on getting started, where the authors give readers necessary background on best field-herping practices. A glossary defines herping lingo and scientific terms for newcomers, and an appendix lists threatened and endangered species at the state and federal level. Herping Texas promotes experiencing natural places and wildlife equipped with solid information and a responsible conservation ethic . Weeds of the South. Charles T. Bryson and Michael S. DeFelice (Eds.). 2009. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 468 pp. $40.95, softcover. ISBN 9780820330464. Weeds threaten the safe, efficient, and sustainable production of food, feed, fiber, and biofuel throughout the world. Featuring more than 1500 full-color photographs, this handy guide provides essential information on 400 of the most troublesome weedy and invasive plants found in the southern United States. Drawing on the expertise of more than 40 weed scientists and botanists, the guide identifies each plant at various stages of its life and offers useful details about its origin, habitat, morphology, biology, distribution, and known toxic properties. The book also includes illustrations of the most common characteristics of plants and the terms used to describe them, a key to plant families, a glossary of frequently used terms, a bibliography, and an index of scientific and common plant names.. Coming to Pass: Florida's Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change. Susan Cerulean. 2015. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 292 pp. $29.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780820347653. Coming to Pass tells the story of a necklace of northern Gulf Coast islands. Both a field guide to a beloved and impermanent Florida landscape and a call for its protection, this memoir chronicles the uniquely beautiful coast as it once was, as it is now, and as it may be as the sea level rises. For decades, Cerulean has kayaked, hiked, and counted birds on and around Dog, the St. Georges, and St. Vincent Islands with family and friends. Like most people, she didn’t know how the islands had come to be or understand the large-scale change coming to the coast. With her husband, oceanographer Jeff Chanton, she studied the genesis of the coast and its inextricable link to the Apalachicola River. She interviewed scientists as they tracked and tallied magnificent and dwindling sea turtles, snowy white beach mice, and endangered plants. With images from prizewinning nature photographer David Moynahan, Coming to Pass is the culmination of Cerulean’s explorations and a reflection of our spiritual relationship and responsibilities to the world that holds us. The Book of Snakes: A Life-size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World. Mark O’Shea. 2018. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 656 pp. $55.00, softcover. ISBN 9780226459394. For millennia, humans have regarded snakes with an exceptional combination of fascination and revulsion. Snakes can convey both beauty and menace in a single tongue flick, and so these creatures have held a special place in our cultures. Yet, for as many meanings that we attribute to snakes—from fertility and birth to sin and death—the real-life species represent an even wider array of wonders. The Book of Snakes presents 600 species of snakes from around the world, covering nearly 1 in 6 of all snake species. It will bring greater understanding of a group of reptiles that have existed for more than 160 million years, and that now inhabit every continent except Antarctica, as well as 2 of the great oceans. The text is written for laypeople and includes a glossary of frequently used terms. Herpetologists and herpetoculturists alike will delight in this collection, and even those with a more cautious stance on snakes will find themselves drawn in by the wild diversity of the suborder Serpentes. Fish Town: Down the Road to Louisiana's Vanishing Fishing Communities. J.T. Blatty. 2018. University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA. Distributed for George F. Thompson Publishing. Noteworthy Books Received by the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 17/4, 2018 Southeastern Naturalist Noteworthy Books 2018 Vol. 17 No. 4 B4 200 pp. $39.95, cloth. ISBN 9781938086519. Fish Town is an inspired documentary project focused on preserving, through photography and oral history recordings, the cultural and environmental remains of southeastern Louisiana’s fishing communities. Owing to a dying wildcaught seafood industry and a rapidly vanishing coastline, the places and people who are multigenerations deep in Louisiana’s fishing traditions have been quietly slipping into extinction for decades; many without a form of historic preservation. These are the same towns that not only have made New Orleans an epicenter of fresh seafood dining but have traditionally served as getaway places for New Orleanian families, an escape to nature where time can be spent together sport fishing on the lakes and bayous and gathering around crab and crawfish boils. J.T. Blatty has been traveling “down the road” from her home in New Orleans since 2009, capturing these places and people as no one previously has. His book includes 137 color photographs taken between 2012 and 2017. Interspersed throughout are text narratives transcribed from audio recordings with long-standing members of the fishing communities, many of whose ancestors came to Louisiana during the late 1600s. Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation. John B French, Sarah J. Converse, and Jane E. Austin. 2018. Academic Press, London, United Kingdom, an imprint of Elsevier. 538 pp. $84.96. Hardcover. ISBN 9780128035559. Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation covers one of the most endangered birds in North America, and the subject of intense research and highly visible conservation activity. This volume summarizes current biological information on Whooping Cranes and provides the basis for future research necessary for conservation of this species. Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation seeks to inform and galvanize action dedicated to meeting the challenges faced by Whooping Crane managers and conservationists. Thus, it describes one model of endangered species conservation and restoration that will interest a wide audience: professionals that work on cranes; researchers in the fields of small population biology, endangered species, and avian ecology; wildlife veterinarians and those involved in avian husbandry; administrators of management agencies or conservation organizations; conservationists in other fields; teachers of conservation biology or ornithology and their students; and the educated general public. Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker 1935-1941. Stephen Lyn Bales. 2010. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. 270 pp. $29.95, hardcover. ISBN 1572337176. Naturalist James T. Tanner was a 21 year-old graduate student when he saw his first Ivory-billed Woodpecker, in a remote swamp in Louisiana. Two years later, Tanner hit the road in search of this ever-elusive bird. His work would result in some of the most extensive field research ever conducted on the magnificent woodpecker. Ghost Birds recounts, in fascinating detail, the scientist’s dogged quest as he chased down leads in 8 southern states. With author Bales as our guide, we experience the same awe and excitement that Tanner felt when he was able to observe and document several of these birds—including a nestling that he handled, banded, and photographed at close range. His work was particularly urgent because the species was quickly vanishing. As sightings became rarer in the decades following his research, the bird was feared to have become extinct. Since 2005, reports of Arkansas and Florida sightings made headlines and gave new hope to ornithologists and bird lovers, although extensive subsequent investigations have yet to produce definitive confirmation. Before he died in 1991, Jim Tanner had come to believe that the majestic woodpeckers were probably gone forever, but he remained hopeful that someone would prove him wrong. This book fully captures Tanner’s determined spirit as he tracked down what was then, as now, one of ornithology’s true Holy Grails. 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.