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Book Reviews of the Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 6, Number 4, 2007

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 6, Number 4 (2007): 755–760

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Book Reviews 2007 755 755 Book Reviews of the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 6/4, 2007 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. Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. Michael Lannoo (Ed.). 2005. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 1094 pp. $95, hardcover. ISBN 0520235924. This is an impressively comprehensive volume that catalogs the status of amphibian populations in the United States. Two hundred and fifteen herpetologists contributed, either in the form of one of the conservation essays, which comprise the first third of the book, or in one of the species accounts, which make up the bulk of the text. The conservation essays cover a broad range of topics, including an overview of why amphibians should matter to us, the causes of their observed decline, conservation efforts from all over the US, survey and monitoring programs, and public education efforts. The species accounts include all 289 known species of amphibians found in the US; this information has never before been assembled in one volume. Written in a standardized and easily accessible format, the accounts provide basic information on life history, natural history, and status data. When this information is unknown, it is clearly indicated in order to provide areas for future research. This is a monumental and important work, because the status of amphibians reveals much about the status of our ecosystem. No photographs, but includes many distribution maps. S.E. Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life. Martin A. Nowak. 2006. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 363 pp. $35, hardcover. ISBN 139780674023383. Two of the crucial processes that drive evolution, mutation and selection, can be described with mathematical equations. This book introduces the reader to the basic mathematical laws that govern the evolution of life, and grew out of a course the author first developed at Harvard in 2005. The first chapter describes population and reproduction dynamics, mutation, and the preservation of genetic diversity. Several subsequent chapters show how game theory can be applied to evolutionary theory. Nowak than builds on these premises to show how cancers, language, cooperation, and HIV infection have evolved and propagated. This is a fascinating treatment of evolutionary theory, with many fresh insights, but a background in both mathematics and biology is highly recommended for full understanding. S.E. Robustness and Evolvability in Living Systems. Andreas Wagner. 2005. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 367 pp. $35, hardcover. ISBN 0691122407. Despite the instability of DNA and the consequent tendency for genetic mutations to occur in living organisms, 756 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 6, No.4 bacteria, plants, and animals continue to persist and thrive. Life-forms seem to have an innate robustness that allows them to survive and reproduce even with alterations to their genetic code. How can a complex living system withstand change and damage to its parts, yet continue to function? This is the fundamental question addressed in this book. Beginning at the molecular level of DNA and working up to complex living organisms, Wagner shows how robustness evolved to sustain life, and how it also plays a key role in enhancing natural selection. This well organized and scholarly book is comprised of four major sections: examples of genetic robustness, robustness at higher levels of biological complexity, general principles behind robustness, and a comparison of robustness in living systems with that in non-living and engineered systems. The author presupposes a basic understanding of biological principles by the reader, as well as some familiarity with linear algebra, calculus, probability theory, and differential equations. Of great interest to evolutionary biologists and engineers. S.E. Biological Emergences: Evolution by Natural Experiment. Robert G.B. Reid. 2007. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 517 pp. $38, IBSN 9780262182577, softcover. Robert G.B. Reid believes that biology is the lead science of the 21st Century because of the types of questions raised by its researchers. These questions include: What is the origin and organization of evolution? What factors promote development of increasingly complex life forms? What is the origin of cognitions and similar functions within the mind? Reid suggests that researchers need to be guided by better theory than the Theory of Natural Selection (1872) and its subsequent adaptations. To support his view, Reid meticulously exposes the limitations of prevailing theories, challenging the reader to accept the need for a paradigm shift. Inspired by The Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology, Reid then integrates concepts from advancing sciences into a theoretical framework that he believes will enable biologists to capture the essences of evolution. Dubbing his Theory of Emergence the “three-ring circus,” Reid states the major concepts of theory as being with the environment and three additional spheres of influence: development epigenetics, symbiosis societies, and physiology behavior. After stating his assumptions and key hypotheses, Reid carefully introduces the reader to literature related to each of these major concepts and then describes pertinent relationships among these concepts, building an integrated, comprehensive Theory of Emergence. An ambitious creation by a dedicated scholar, the Theory of Emergence is testable and has the potential to shape the direction of biological research in the 21st century. This text also prepares general readers to accept new knowledge generated by a timely paradigm shift in science related to evolution. N.L. From DNA to Diversity: Molecular Genetics and the Evolution of Animal Design, 2nd Edition. Sean B. Carroll, Jennifer K. Grenier, and Scott D. Weatherbee. 2006. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA. 258 pp. $64.95, softcover. ISBN 1405119500. Designed for the general audience as well as undergraduates pursuing degrees in science, this text clearly describes how certain highly conserved DNA genes are responsible for designing animals. This highly technical textbook facilitates learning by its conversational tone, summarization of important points, and inclusion of illustrations (graphs, pictures), exciting case studies, and glossary of terms. Beautifully illustrated and printed on quality paper, this book is a pleasure to read. The authors parsimoniously explain that a small set of highly conserved genes (i.e., the genetic toolkit) governs the morphological features of all animals. With incremental care, the text explains how genes outside the genetic Book Reviews 2007 757 toolkit regulate, suppress, overexpress, and/or repress transcription of highly conserved genes forming increasingly sophisticated circuits and networks in pace with the evolution of more complex animal designs. Attributing morphological novelties and intraspecies variations to an accumulation of small mutations (i.e., point, duplication, deletion) in toolbox genes and/or genetic regulatory circuitry, the authors note that animal diversification multiplied exponentially twice, but offer no explanation of these occurrences. Despite this limitation, the text fires the imagination. From DNA to Diversity is more than successful in providing undergraduates with sufficient information to understand and appreciate the unlimited research challenges of mapping of animal designs and gives the general reader suffi cient information to appreciate morphological genetics. N.L. Seafaring Scientist: Alfred Goldsborough Mayor, Pioneer in Marine Biology. Lester D. Stephens and Dale R. Calder. 2006. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 248 pp. $24.95, softcover. ISBN 157003642X. A comprehensive professional biography of Alfred Goldsborough Mayor, founder of the Tortugas Laboratory, a marine biology lab once located on the Dry Tortugas off Florida. Sometimes overlooked as a researcher, Mayor is best known for administering the lab. The authors rectify this oversight by highlighting his scientific work, as well as his administrative skills. Readable and interesting, recommended for any one in the marine biology field. S.O’M Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith. 2004. W.W. Norton, New York, NY. 345 pp. $17.95, softcover. ISBN 0393327582. The popular-science companion volume to the series on public television. Intended as an update on the ideas of the origins of the universe and the evolution of the field of astrophysics. Presents current astrophysics as a broad synthesis that includes astrochemistry, astrobiology, and astro-particle physics. Focuses entirely on the biggest of pictures, as only works of physics can. Compulsively readable, appropriate for all readers. Recommended for those seeking a non-technical introduction to current thinking on origins of the universe. S.O’M. Frogs and Toads of Big Bend National Park. Gage H. Dayton, Raymond Skiles, and Linnea Dayton. 2007. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. 64 pp. $12.95, softcover. ISBN 139781585445769. The Big Bend National Park, found in Texas, is mostly a dry, harsh environment, but it is home to eleven species of amphibians. Most of these take advantage of the ephemeral pools that form after precipitation to complete their lifecycle. This well-illustrated field guide presents the distinguishing features that allow for the identification of each species by the amateur naturalist. Details on the natural history and distribution of each species are accompanied by many appealing color photographs. Contains an identification key, glossary, and short list of references. This is a nice, easy-to-use field guide that any Big Bend Park visitor interested in amphibians will enjoy and find useful. S.E. Herpetology: An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. 2nd Edition. George R. Zug, Laurie J. Vitt, and Janalee P. Caldwell. 2001. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. 630 pp. $78.95, hardcover. ISBN 012782622X. This second edition of the popular textbook provides a broad overview of amphibian and reptilian biology, taxonomy, evolution, behavior, and conservation. It is well suited for an undergraduate-level herpetology course, and could accompany any introductory course in biology, evolution, or taxonomy. It is invaluable also as a reference for professional herpetologists. 758 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 6, No.4 Some changes since the publication of the first edition in 1993 include the listing of citations and references, and a reassignment of classification and nomenclature based on new techniques for evaluating phylogenetic relationships. It is well illustrated throughout with photographs (some in color), line drawings, and distribution maps. Provides up-to-date information on all of the major groups, and includes an extensive taxonomic index, as well as a glossary. S.E. Fishes of Arkansas. Henry W. Robison and Thomas M. Buchanan. 1989. The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, AR. 536 pp. $37.50, softcover. ISBN 1557280010. A comprehensive guide to 215 native and introduced fish species known to live in Arkansas. Introductory chapters discuss the history of ichthyology in Arkansas, the types of aquatic habitats found there, human interactions with the fisheries, and the introduced, rare, and endangered species found in the state. The bulk of the text consists of descriptions of the species representing 27 families of fish found in Arkansas waters. Taxonomic keys, small photographs, and detailed descriptions ensure accurate identification. Each species description includes biological and life-history information, some of it never before published. A useful and thorough guide for scientists and fishermen. S.E. Florida Butterfly Caterpillars and Their Host Plants. Marc. C. Minno, Jerry F. Butler, and Donald W. Hall. 341 pp. $34.95, softcover. ISBN 0813027896. The text begins with an extensive introduction that includes a discussion of caterpillar anatomy, biology, ecology, behavior, and defense, and a key to family or subfamily. A discussion of lifecycles is accompanied by numerous photographs showing the various stages from egg to larvae to chrysalis to adult of the eighteen families or subfamilies in the state. Finding and rearing caterpillars is discussed. Detailed descriptions of habitat types found in the state are accompanied by photographs. Host plants are briefly discussed in the introduction and photographs, description, habitat, and distribution of caterpillars that use each host are detailed in the final chapter. Species accounts include scientific name with former names, common name, detailed description, similar species, habitat, and US distribution. Natural history is outlined and caterpillar season is given with host plants by common and scientific name. Color plates are provided for each species with a range map and host plant. A little too big to fit into a pocket, but quite packable for field work. C.R. Evolutionary Ecology of Parasites, 2nd Edition. Robert Poulin. 2007. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 332 pp. $39.50, softcover. ISBN 0691120854. This is a revised and updated edition of the author’s earlier book. The biology, ecology, and evolution of parasites is the central focus of this text, with relatively little said about the impact of parasites on their hosts. An introduction briefly discusses evolutionary ecology followed by a chapter on the origins of parasitism and lifestyle complexity. Host specificity, evolution of life-history strategies, and host exploitation strategies are each addressed in separate chapters. Parasite aggregation and parasite population dynamics and genetics are also covered. Competition is the subject of another chapter, followed by parasite infracommunity structure. Richness, biogeography, and host specifi city of component communities is discussed in the final chapter before the conclusion that contains a brief discussion of potential future areas of study. This text is intended for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in parasitology and to serve as reference for parasitologists and evolutionary ecologists using parasites as model organisms. An extensive list of references and a detailed index conclude the text. C.R. Book Reviews 2007 759 Soil Exhaustion as a Factor in the Agricultural History of Virginia and Maryland, 1606–1860. Avery Odelle Craven. 2006. The University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 184 pp. $15.95, softcover. Originally published in 1925, this book will be appreciated by those with an interest in soil science as well as those interested in economic, social, agricultural, and environmental history. Craven describes the relationship between the farmers and their land and chronicles the results of their poor social and economic choices that soon led to depleted soil and economic ruin. A new introduction by Louis A. Ferleger puts Craven’s work in context for the modern reader. Craven begins his chronology with a brief discussion of soil fertility and soil exhaustion after which he chronicles activities of the colonial period (1606–1783), the post-revolutionary period (1783–1820) and the agricultural revival (1820–1860). The general conditions of agriculture during the time period are discussed as are prevailing methods of cultivation and the results of the various methods. This text has enormous relevance for the current day as effects of human activities on the planet become better understood. C.R. Precolumbian Water Management: Ideology, Ritual, and Power. Lisa J. Lucero and Barbara W. Fash (Eds.). 2006. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ. 304 pp. $55, hardcover. ISBN 0816523142. How water influenced the politics, economics, and religions of the precolumbian people is the subject of this text. Focusing on Mesoamerica and the Southwest, this collection of papers covers a range of environmental conditions from desert to lowland. How precolumbian site planning, ritual, and iconography developed around water systems through time are presented chronologically beginning with preclassic development of engineered water systems. Classic systems are presented next and illustrate the role of ritual and symbolism in regional water systems. The evolution of classic systems into postclassical Mesoamerica is discussed in two chapters: one describing Mexico-Texcoco lakes and another describing water sources at Mayapan, Mexico. The last chapter covers water systems in the southwest. A synthesis and conclusion is presented as an overview that is worth reading first. An extensive references cited section and index conclude the text. C.R. The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges From Life Itself. J. Scott Turner. 2007. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 282 pp. $27.95, hardcover. ISBN 139780674023536. This book is a challenging examination of how the appearance of purposeful design by a deity in the structure and function of living beings has its source in the inherent nature of biological systems. Drawing upon his extensive research as a physiologist, and using examples as diverse as termite mounds, circulatory systems, and vision, Turner shows how the driving force for homeostasis in the face of environmental change encourages “tinkering” and ad hoc changes by cellular systems. This drives evolutionary change in such a way that organisms appear as though they were designed for their specific ecological niches. Although he rarely directly address the arguments made by proponents of intelligent design, Turner does highlight some of their logical fallacies and shortcomings. This is a fascinating book that requires close reading, but it is presented in an enjoyable fashion. Will stimulate and engage anyone with training or curiosity in biology and evolution. S.E. The Counter-Creationism Handbook. Mark Isaak. 2007. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 330 pp. $19.95, softcover. ISBN 139780520249264. This book addresses over 400 of the claims made by proponents of creationism and intelligent design. The author also maintains a web site that examines lesser used or more recent 760 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 6, No.4 arguments. The claims are organized here by an indexing system that places them into one of ten broad categories, including arguments based on philosophy and theology, biology, geology, and astronomy. This enables the reader to quickly find a particular claim, and it provides the author with a convenient method of referring to other claims in the book that are related in some way to the one being addressed. Each claim is rebutted in a concise, bullet-like style, with supporting scientific references provided. The references used by the intelligent design proponents are also provided. A tremendously useful resource for anyone who supports the teaching of evolution, but needs the background to respond to those who oppose it. S.E. Biology and Conservation of Ridley Sea Turtles. Pamela T. Plotkin (Ed.). 2007. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 356 pp. $60, hardcover. ISBN 0801886112. Though the smallest of the sea turtles, ridleys may be among the best known due to their unique massnesting behavior, in which thousands of turtles will come ashore at one time to lay their eggs. This text presents the most upto- date information on all aspects of the biology and ecology of these enigmatic creatures. Contributions from top experts on the two species of ridleys discuss physiology, population genetics, sex determination, migration patterns, and human interactions. Illustrated with charts, maps, and some photographs, and extensively referenced to the literature. This is an important and informative text that will be valued by marine biologists and others with an interest in sea turtles. S.E. Book Reviewers: S.E. = Stephen Eddy, N.L. = Nancy Lovejoy, S.O’M. = Sarah O'Malley, C.R. = Cathy Rees.