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Book Reviews of the Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 6, Number 2, 2007

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 6, Number 2 (2007): 376–380

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376 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 6, No.2 376 Book Reviews of the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 6/2, 2007 Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America (North of Mexico). R.D. Bartlett and Patricia P. Bartlett. 2006. University Press of Florida, Gainsville, FL. 283 pp. $29.95, softcover. ISBN 0813029503. Identification guide to the astonishing number of amphibian species found from the eastern seaboard west to the Dakotas and south to Texas. Especially useful, given the current worldwide amphibian decline. Authors note that species in the guide book area are doing well generally, better than most, but are still exhibiting some reductions. Includes excellent color photos throughout and species-by-species descriptions with maps. Also includes helpful general descriptions of family characteristics. Like all Bartlett guides, text is punctuated by anecdotes and personal stories from authors’ time in the field observing various species. Could only be improved by descriptions and photos of egg deposits to aid in identification of breeding presence of a species, without having to find an adult specimen. Highly Recommended. S.O’M. Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Eastern and Central North America (North of Mexico). R.D. Bartlett and Patricia P. Bartlett. 2005. University Press of Florida, Gainsville, FL. 342 pp. $29.95, softcover. ISBN 081302935X. A wonderful and readable guide to the various families of snakes in Eastern North America. Covers 209 species, including native and introduced and naturalized species. Coverage area extends west to western Texas, North Dakota, and Manitoba. Uses traditional “conservative” taxonomy and acknowledges subspecies. Includes key to families. Lengthy discussion of each family and subfamily as well as specific species. Personal stories relating to the authors’ encounters with each family enliven the text. Includes a color photo of each species; color variants discussed, but generally not represented by photo. Includes glossary and recommended reading. A useful reference, highly recommended for general outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. S.O’M. Guide and Reference to the Crocodilians, Turtles, and Lizards of Eastern and Central North America (North of Mexico). R.D. Bartlett and Patricia P. Bartlett. 2006. University Press of Florida, Gainsville, FL. 316 pp. $29.95, softcover. ISBN 0813029465. Completes the Bartlett guide book to herptofauna trilogy. Includes excellent features found in all Bartlett guides: full color photos, range maps, clear and thorough species discussions, helpful descriptions of orders and families, and authors’ anecdotes of field time. Includes 208 species. Limited to adults. Nesting information included in some family descriptions. Guide is of limited utility in the northern part of its coverage area, especially the northeast, due to small number of species (mostly turtles) found there. Highly recommended for those in southern part of coverage area. S.O’M. The Mosquito Wars: A History of Mosquito Control in Florida. Gordon Patterson. 2004. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 263 pp. $55, hardcover. ISBN 0813027209. At one time, mosquitos were so plentiful in Florida that they literally drove humans insane, killed livestock, and made three to four months of the year a torment. This book, written for the Florida History and Culture Series, tells the story of the successful effort to control mosquito population levels in Florida. Written in a clear and engaging style, this book details the many strategies employed in this war, including the widespread use of DDT and other pesticides. Mosquitos were indeed 2007 Book Reviews 377 controlled, but at a great cost to the ecology and environment of Florida, leading to a public backlash against control measures. The recent occurrence in Florida of West Nile Virus and some cases of malaria (both are transmitted by mosquitos) may cause the debate to shift again. This is a fascinating story, of interest to all Floridians and to anyone concerned about the use of insecticides. S.E. Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer. Bill Gifford. 2007. Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, FL. 331 pp. $25, hardcover. ISBN 0151012180. An intrepid explorer, John Ledyard sailed with Captain Cook on his final voyage. Befriended by Thomas Jefferson, Ledyard had set out to explore North America 15 years prior to the famous travels of Lewis and Clark, but instead of traveling from east to west, Ledyard headed east from Paris. Gifford tells the story of this Harrison Ford-type figure chronologically from his early adulthood in Connecticut through his restless travels to his untimely death at the age of 37. A largerthan- life figure, Ledyard makes an engaging subject for Gifford’s well-researched and colorful storytelling. An extensive list of notes, a bibliography, suggestions for further reading, and an index are provided. C.R. Parasites and Diseases of Wild Mammals in Florida. Donald J. Forrester. 1992. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 459 pp. $59.95, hardcover. ISBN 0813010721. This text discusses the distribution, prevalence, and significance of the parasites and diseases afflicting a broad range of Florida’s mammalian wildlife, including rodents, bats, raccoons, armadillos, bears, panthers, deer, and marine mammals. Though published over 15 years ago, it remains a relevant and useful text that has become a standard reference for wildlife biologists, epidemiologists, and veterinarians. Although it is not a diagnostic manual, the information it contains is helpful in confirming a diagnosis. Contains many charts and figures, as well as black and white photographs of disease causing agents and their manifestations, including some histopathological slides. This text belongs on the shelf of any Florida wildlife biologist, but it is also useful well outside of this region, since many of the described diseases, parasites, and their mammalian hosts are not limited to Florida. S.E. The Cuban Treefrog in Florida: Life History of a Successful Colonizing Species. Walter E. Meshaka, Jr. 2001. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 191 pp. $69.95, hardcover. ISBN 081302109X. Meshaka describes his search to understand how the Cuban treefrog has so successfully colonized the southern Everglades. By comparing ten traits important for colonization across three geographic areas—its native habitat, habitats to which it has been introduced, and habitats at the northern range of its introduced distribution—the author seeks to provide an explanation for its colonizing success. Chapters examining the natural history of the treefrog, and a brief introduction to the Everglades are followed by detailed accounts of reproductive biology, development and growth, seasonal and night activity, habitat affinity, diet, predation, and body size. A synthesis of how well the treefrog correlates with characteristics of colonizing species, along with chapters outlining future colonizing opportunities and the Treefrog’s future in the Everglades, conclude the study. A list of references and species index are provided. C.R. The Liguus Tree Snails of South Florida. Henry T. Close. 2000. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 161 pp. $65, hardcover. ISBN 0813018145. This guide to the shells of the Everglade tree snails is aimed at everyone from beginning enthusiasts to professional malacologists. While the largest section of this 378 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 6, No.2 book covers shell identification of the 59 named color forms, there is also information on the ecology, biology, and evolution of the snails. Distribution and dispersal are also addressed in individual chapters. About 300 of the brilliantly colored shells are depicted in color plates. Appendices include classification of color forms, a list of sinistral specimens (those spiraling counterclockwise) with location, collector and date, and a partial history of references beginning chronologically in 1742. A bibliography and index are also included. C.R. The Exotic Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida. Walter E. Meshaka, Jr., Brian P. Butterfield, and J. Brian Hauge. 2004. Krieger Publishing company, Malabar, FL. 155 pp. $38.95, hardcover. ISBN 1575240424. Florida is home to more exotic amphibians and reptiles than any other state in the US and has more exotic than native lizards. An updated list of species and an account of each is provided. Organized by family, each account includes naming authority, common name(s), a detailed description, body measurements, a color photograph, and discussion of similar species. A history of the species’ introduction and distribution is discussed. A range map is included. Details regarding habitat and habits, reproduction, diet, and predators are also covered. This well-illustrated and comprehensive book will be appreciated by naturalists and land managers. A cross reference between scientific and common names is provided, as well as an extensive list of references. C.R. Land Use Change and Mountain Biodiversity. Eva M. Spehn, Maximo Liberman, and Christian Körner (Eds.). 2006. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 362 pp. $109.95, hardcover. ISBN 084933523X. A collection of papers presented at two Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment workshops in Tanzania (2002) and Bolivia (2003) that focused on biodiversity and sustainable use of tropical and subtropical highlands. An introduction is followed by a collection of papers that address the effects of fire on mountain biodiversity and one on the effects of grazing. One section examines the effects of grazing specifically on mountain forests. A section of four chapters that address the socioeconomic aspects of land and mountain biodiversity is followed by a chapter that synthesizes human impacts of fire and grazing and a chapter that presents a research agenda for land-use effects on biodiversity. Separate subject, plant, and animal species indices are provided. C.R. Wild Orchids of South Carolina: A Popular Natural History. James Alexander Fowler. 2005. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 242 pp. $39.95, hardcover. ISBN 1570035660. Fowler provides detailed accounts of the 55 species of orchids documented in the state. Several highquality color pictures are provided for each species, often showing close ups of the flowers and the whole plant in its habitat. Common and scientific names are given for each, with an interpretation of the scientific name. A description identifies distinguishing characters. Flowering period, habitat, range, and pollinators are also listed. A range map shows the counties in which each orchid has been found. A glossary and index conclude the book. Written for those with an interest in natural history, this book will be valued by orchid and wildflower enthusiasts of the region. C.R. Mockingbird Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South. Jack Temple Kirby. 2006. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 361 pp. $29.95, hardcover. ISBN 0807830577. Kirby presents a rambling narrative on how people, past and present, relate to one another and the landscapes of the south. This is an environmental history as 2007 Book Reviews 379 shaped by humans. The ethics of the human relationship to nature is touched on in each chapter. The book begins with a discussion of the native human cultures that populated the south at the time of contact with the first Europeans and describes the interactions of these cultures. European culture dominates the remainder of the book, which examines the relationship of people to the land with regard to agriculture (the plantation) and wildlife (how a hunting tradition was harnessed by the military). The need for shelter as it developed into construction of towns and cities is discussed, with a final chapter on the postmodern landscapes that we have constructed. Notes for each chapter and a brief index are provided. C.R. Pharsalia: An Environmental Biography of a Southern Plantation, 1780- 1880. Lynn A. Nelson. 2007. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 295 pp. $39.95, hardcover. ISBN 0820326275. Nelson tells the story of a Piedmont Virginia plantation owned by a single family for a century from a wealth of notes left behind. The story documents the struggle for agrarian independence and the negative impacts of farming on the fragile soils of the Piedmont. The result of a single family’s attempt to work with the environment, the marketplace, and their own yearning for independence was similar to others’ in the region and unexpectedly resulted in agriculture as a form of slave-dependent capitalism. Well written and informative, this history of circumstances leading up to the southern conservation movement will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in agricultural issues, both past and present, and how our treatment of the land has far reaching consequences we might not anticipate. C.R. The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma. Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart. 2005. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 314 pp. $18, softcover. ISBN 0300119771. While Darwin was able to make a strong case for natural selection, he was less effective at explaining variation. The authors have set out to provide this explanation with the theory of facilitated variation, which covers how useful variations are produced and how they affect evolutionary change. Devoid of jargon specific to any particular group of scientists and assisted by a glossary, this book will be enjoyed by all. C.R. Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas. Kevin G. Stewart and Mary-Russell Roberson. 2007. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 298 pp. $19.95, softcover. ISBN 0807857861. A terrific guide to the geology of North and South Carolina, aimed at the curious nonscientist. Uses the most up-to-date research on regional geology. First several chapters provide an introduction to geology and an overview of plate tectonics with a history of the rocks that make up the region. The rest of the text is devoted to “Field Trips,” detailed descriptions of sites in all three geological provinces (Blue Ridge, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain) that highlight geological features of interest. A wide range of locations from mountains to beaches are included. Field-trip descriptions emphasize the geology, but include limited directions and access information. Includes a helpful glossary and recommended reading. Recommended. S.O’M. The Reluctant Mr. Darwin. David Quammen. 2006. W.W. Norton, New York, NY. 304 pp. $22.95, softcover. ISBN 0393059812. A short biography of Charles Darwin focusing on the period of time after his return from sea in which he developed the theory of natural selection and published The Origin of Species. Chiefly the account of intellectual development of a specific idea, rather than a comprehensive biography. Provides a look at the social and intellectual context of Darwin and his connection to 380 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 6, No.2 the scientific community at the time. Spends a good deal of time on Darwin’s relationship to and semi-rivalry with Alfred Wallace (who developed a similar theory of evolution before Darwin published his own). Very readable due to David Quam-men’s clear writing style. Recommended for anyone interested in the history of science. S.O’M. The Everglades: An Environmental History. David McCalley. 1999. University Press of Florida, Gainsville, FL. 215 pp. $19.95, softcover. ISBN 0813018277. A fascinating and well-written account of the environmental history of the Everglades wetland complex in south Florida. Discusses the natural history and climate of the glacial era. Detailed description of the landscape before modern drainage and reclamation efforts, with dramatic before and after photos. Includes native peoples. Politics of the early 20th-century drainage efforts are well documented. Ends with a short epilogue on restoration efforts. An astonishing story. Includes notes and bibliography. Recommended for anyone interested in the Everglades and/or a case history of landscape degradation. S.O’M. A Guide to Sampling Freshwater Mussel Populations. David L. Strayer and David R. Smith. 2003. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. 103 pp. $55, softcover. ISBN 1888569506. Mussels are often important components of freshwater aquatic ecosystems, and can be useful monitors of ecosystem health and pollution. Increasingly, they are under threat from human activities. Their populations need to be accurately estimated by biologists using statistical sampling methodology. This guide presents a review of sampling designs and sampling gear, and discusses the statistical approaches best used for sampling sedentary organisms that are spotty in distribution and submerged in water. This is a technical text with an emphasis on statistical methodology; a background in statistics will be helpful, though not essential for understanding. Though oriented towards sampling mussel populations, this text is of practical value for anyone needing to sample plant or animal populations in the field. S.E. Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History. Stephen Jay Gould. 1992. W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York, NY. 285 pp. $15.95, softcover. ISBN 0393308189. An engaging collection of essays addressing all aspects of evolution. Originally published in 1977, this collection seems as timely as ever. Covering topics as diverse as human evolution and continental drift, Gould captures the interest of the naturally curious. C.R. Book Reviewers: S.E. = Stephen Eddy, S.O'M. = Sarah O'Malley, C.R. = Cathy Rees. Announcement 2007 Gopher Tortoise Council Meeting. October 11–14, 2007 at Adventures Unlimited in Milton, FL. For more info: www.gophertortoisecouncil.org.