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Noteworthy Books Received by the Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 9, Number 3, 2010

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 9, Issue 3 (2010): 632–634

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632 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 9, No.2 632 Noteworthy Books Received by the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 9/3, 2010 Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico. John W. Tunnell, Jr., Ernesto A. Chávez, and Kim Withers (Editors). 2007. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX (sponsored by the Harte Research Institute of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christie). 216 pp. $50, hardcover. ISBN 9781585446179. Coral reefs declined worldwide during the 1980s and 1990s, making them perhaps the most endangered marine ecosystem on Earth. This realization spurred John W. Tunnell, Jr. and others to write a comprehensive book that would raise awareness of coral reefs and their plight. Tunnell and co-editors Ernesto A. Chávez and Kim Withers present an integrated and broad-ranging synthesis, while Mexican and US experts assess the current state of these fragile systems and offer a framework for their restoration. Beginning with a history of the research done in this region, Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico covers the geography, geology, oceanography, ecology, and biodiversity of the thirty-eight “emergent” or platform-type coral reefs in the southern Gulf. The editors include chapters on the biota—from algae to fish—followed by a look at environmental impacts, both natural (such as hurricanes and red tides) and human (such as ship groundings and dredging). The book closes with a discussion of conservation issues, which is both descriptive and prescriptive in its assessment of what has been done and what should be done to protect and manage these vital ecosystems. Encyclopedia of Texas Seashsells: Identification, Ecology, Distribution, and History. John W. Tunnell, Jr., Jean Andrews, Noe C. Barrera, and Fabio Moretzsohn. 2010. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. 512 pp. $50, hardcover. ISBN 9781603441414. An essential reference book for every collector and researcher of American seashells, the Encyclopedia of Texas Seashells is a complete sourcebook and up-to-date identification guide, covering an unprecedented nine hundred species of seashells and mollusks that reside in the marine habitats of the Gulf of Mexico. Special features include: an illustrated guide to the general features of mollusks; family overviews; descriptions of deep-water, tropical, coral reef, and bank species; information boxes on notable species; assemblage photos of dominant species in primary Texas habitats; and a checklist and glossary. This reference contains 987 detailed and data-rich color images, a valuable primer on shell collecting as a hobby, and a wealth of entries on the history of use and study, habitats and ecology, shell characteristics, distribution, biology, and identification. Covering species that range from Florida to South America, the Encyclopedia of Texas Seashells will also be a valuable resource for anyone interested in seashells of the Western Atlantic. Manual of the Vascular Flora of Nags Head Woods, Outer Banks, North Carolina. Alexander Krings. 2010. The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY in association with The Nature Conservancy. 328 pp. $62, hardcover. ISBN 9780893275006. This book is volume 103 of the Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden. The Nags Head Woods complex (Outer Banks, Dare County, North Carolina) hosts the best remaining example of exceedingly rare, mid-Atlantic maritime deciduous forest and also includes an extensive system of open dunes, evergreen forest, interdunal ponds, swamps, and marshes. Over 550 plant species in 122 families have been reported from the site, constituting nearly three-quarters of the known Outer Banks flora. This manual was developed based on field and herbarium study and seeks to document the rich flora of Nags Head Woods. Keys, descriptions, and illustra2010 Noteworthy Books 633 tions, as well as notes on phenology, habitat, and the broader distribution of included taxa on the Outer Banks, are provided. Relevant herbarium specimens known to the author from the main depositories of Outer Banks collections, as well as important literature reports, are cited after the species descriptions. Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens: A Handbook for Gardeners, Homeowners, and Professionals. Gil Nelson. 2010. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, fl. 424 pp. $29.95, softcover. ISBN 9780813034584. Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens highlights and illustrates several hundred readily available and easy-to-grow native species for gardeners and landscapers living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. These native plants include shrubs, small and large trees, and a collection of perennials, all of which have proven to be extremely successful landscape plants in the southeastern United States. The average homeowner will be able to find many of these species in local retail nurseries whether or not these nurseries specialize in native plants. Gil Nelson has created an indispensable, authoritative publication that describes and recommends high-performing native plants, tells readers how to avoid the use of invasive species in their gardens, and highlights the design of several specialty and wildlife gardens. With the help of regional experts, the included species have been selected based on field visits to retail and wholesale nurseries, private and public gardens and arboreta, personal knowledge and experience, and discussions with landscape and gardening enthusiasts, professionals, and experts throughout the region. The inclusion of more than 600 color photos makes this an easy-to-use, valuable addition to any gardener’s library. Salamanders of the Southeast. Joe Mitchell and Whit Gibbons. 2010. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 336 pp. $26.95, softcover. ISBN 9780820330358. Describing 102 species of salamanders occurring in the southeastern United States, ecologists Joe Mitchell and Whit Gibbons provide us with the most comprehensive and authoritative, yet accessible and fun-to-read, guide to these often secretive, always fascinating wonders of nature. Mitchell and Gibbons enumerate the distinguishing characteristics of salamanders, including how they are different from other amphibians and from reptiles, especially lizards. Also discussed are distribution, habitat, behavior and activity, reproduction, food and feeding, predators and defense, conservation, and taxonomy. Accompanying each account are photographs illustrating typical adults and variations and distribution maps for the Southeast and the United States. Given that 17 percent of the world’s species of salamanders live in the Southeast and the scientific and popular concern for the worldwide decline in amphibian populations in general, Salamanders of the Southeast will appeal to people of all ages and levels of knowledge interested in natural history and conservation. The guide will help foster the growing interest in salamanders as well as cultivate a desire to protect and conserve these fascinating amphibians and their habitats. Features include: a conservation-oriented approach; more than 400 color photographs; 77 distribution maps; clear descriptions and photographs of each species; sections on biology, worldwide diversity, identifi- cation, taxonomy, habitats, and conservation; and “Did You Know?” sidebars of interesting facts. 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. 634 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 9, No.2