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Noteworthy Books of the Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 18, Number 1, 2011

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 18, Issue 1 (2011): 123–126

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The Simple Science of Flight. Henk Tennekes. 2009. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 176 pp. $21.95, softcover. ISBN 9780262513135. From the smallest gnat to the largest aircraft, all things that fly obey the same aerodynamic principles. In The Simple Science of Flight, Henk Tennekes investigates just how machines and creatures fly: what size wings they need, how much energy is required for their journeys, how they cross deserts and oceans, how they take off, climb, and soar. Fascinated by the similarities between nature and technology, Tennekes offers an introduction to flight that teaches by association. Swans and Boeings differ in numerous ways, but they follow the same aerodynamic principles. Biological evolution and its technical counterpart exhibit exciting parallels. What makes some airplanes successful and others misfits? Why does the Boeing 747 endure but the Concorde now seem a fluke? Tennekes explains the science of flight through comparisons, examples, equations, and anecdotes. The new edition of this popular book has been thoroughly revised and much expanded. Highlights of the new material include a description of the incredible performance of Bar-tailed Godwits (7000 miles nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand), an analysis of the convergence of modern jetliners (from both Boeing and Airbus), a discussion of the metabolization of energy featuring Lance Armstrong, a novel treatment of the aerodynamics of drag and trailing vortices, and an emphasis throughout on evolution, in nature and in engineering. Tennekes draws on new evidence on bird migration, new windtunnel studies, and data on new airliners. Thus, his analysis of the relative efficiency of planes, trains, and automobiles is newly relevant (e.g., on a cost-per-seat scale, a 747 is more efficient than a passenger car.) Assessment of Species Diversity in the Atlantic Maritime Ecozone. Donald F. McAlpine and Ian M. Smith (Eds.). 2010. NRC Research Press, Ottawa ON, Canada . 797 pp. $89.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780660198354. This illustrated volume provides the first comprehensive introduction to species diversity in the ecozone that encompasses New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and parts of Quebec. It describes the regional flora and fauna, from fungi to mammals, and explores post-glacial history, Noteworthy Books Received by the Northeastern Naturalist, Issue 18/1, 2011 123 aquatic habitats, and protected areas. Chapters also examine trends in biodiversity and human impacts and forecast anticipated changes. This volume will serve as a benchmark for further study of biodiversity in Eastern Canada and should prove invaluable to anyone with an interest in conserving the living resources of one of the first regions in Canada to experience extensive European settlement. Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region of the United States: An Endangered Species Success Story. Adrian P. Wydeven, Timothy R. Van Deelen, and Edward J. Heske. 2009. Springer, New York, NY. 350 pp. $59.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780387859514.The western Great Lakes region of the United States is the only portion of the lower 48 states where wolves were never completely extirpated. This region contains the areas where many of the first modern concepts of wolf conservation and research were developed, and where many early proponents of wolf conservation such as Aldo Leopold, Sigurd Olson, and Durward Allen lived and worked. The Great Lakes region also is the first place in the US where “endangered” wolf populations recovered. During this recovery, we learned much about wolf biology and ecology, endangered species management, carnivore conservation, landscape ecology, depredation management, and social aspects of wildlife conservation. Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region of the United States traces wolf recovery from diverse perspectives ranging from ecology, management, and policy to the cultural, social, and historical significance of wolves. The Freshwater Mussels of Ohio. G. Thomas Watters, Michael A. Hoggarth, and David H. Stansbery. 2009. Springer, New York, NY. 421 pp. $69.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780814211052. Nearly 200 years ago, a naturalist named Rafinesque stood on the banks of the Ohio River and began to describe the freshwater mussels he found there. Since that time, these animals have become the most imperiled animals in North America. Dozens of species have become extinct, and it is estimated that two-thirds of the remaining freshwater mussels face a similar fate. Yet, despite their importance, the mussels of Ohio remain a poorly documented and largely 124 Northeastern Naturalist Vol. 18, No. 1 mysterious fauna. The Freshwater Mussels of Ohio brings together, for the first time, the most up-to-date research on Ohio’s mussels. Designed for the weekend naturalist and scientist alike, it synthesizes recent work on genetics, biology, and systematics into one book. Each species is illustrated to a degree not found in any other work. Full-page color plates depict shell variation, hinge detail, and beak sculpture. Full-page maps show the distribution of each species based upon the collections of numerous museums (with historical distributions dating from the 1800s). In addition to species accounts, the book has a substantive introduction that includes information on basic biology, human use, and conservation issues. Extensive synonymies, a key to all species, and an illustrated glossary are included as well. Early Maine Wildlife: Historical Accounts of Canada Lynx, Moose, Mountain Lion, White-tailed Deer, Wolverine, Wolves, and Woodland Caribou, 1603–1930. William B. Krohn and Christopher L. Hoving. 2010. University of Maine Press, Orono, ME. 533 pp. $34.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780891011194. The Northeast, especially Maine, has an exceptionally rich heritage of early literature about wildlife. These writings are buried in obscure scientific books and journals, government documents, rare books, old newspapers, and discontinued sporting periodicals. The primary section of this book is a chronologically-arranged compilation of selected quotations from these hard-to-find sources, thus making accessible significant wildlife writings of early biologists, naturalists, and woodsmen from northern New England and eastern Canada. While designed to be a reference-work for biologists, conservationists, folklorists, and historians, this book will also be of use to campers, hunters, trappers, and others interested in the region’s natural history. Early Maine Wildlife features early writings about the Canada Lynx, Moose, Mountain Lion, White-tailed Deer, Wolverine, Wolves, and Woodland Caribou. To put the historical information about these species into a contemporary context, life history summaries of these animals are presented. These brief life histories are supported with recent technical bibliographic references for those wanting more detailed scientific information. Although Early Maine Wildlife does not provide a thorough analysis of historical information, the book functions as a unique guide to help readers find important early records relating to the biology, distribution, and conservation of four predators and three ungulates. In addition to providing extensive quotations documenting the occurrence and status of each of the featured species, Early Maine Wildlife discusses the pros and cons of using early written records. Published information is only as reliable as the competency of the observer and reporter. Thus, biographical sketches are included, portraying the twenty-one authors whose writings are most frequently quoted. Short histories of the six sporting journals and newspapers most frequently cited in the book— along with their availability in public libraries— are also discussed. Joshua Gross Rich (1820–1897): The Life and Works fo a Western Maine Pioneer and Wildlife Writer. Compiled and introduced by William B. Krohn. 2010. Maine Folklife Center, Orono, ME. 231 pp. $29, softcover. ISBN 9780943197388. Joshua Gross Rich was an adventurous pioneer who helped to settle western Maine. He supported himself and family by trapping, guiding, and farming. He sold his winter catch to fur traders and as scientific speciments to Harvard University. Rich owned and operated a hotel, a general store, and an early—if not the first—fishing resort on the Rangeley Lakes, “Angler’s Retreat”. Designed for folklorists, hostorians, naturalists, anglers, hunters, trappers, and anyone interested in Maine’s civil and natural histories during the eighteen hundreds, this book begins with a biographical sketch of Rich, followed by six of his articles, including a description of his life as an early settler, detailed observations about the region's Brook Trout, and a controversial story about a lost cave. Included is an annotated bibliography of Rich’s published works, and a computer analysis that attempts to relocate Rich’s cave. G. Evelyn Hutchinson and the Invention of Modern Ecology. Nancy G. Slack. 2010. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 480 pp. $40, hardcover. ISBN 9780300161380. Stephen J. Gould declared G. Evelyn Hutchinson the most important ecologist of the twentieth century. E.O. Wilson pronounced him “one of the few scientists who could unabashedly be called a genius.” In this fascinating book, Nancy G. Slack presents for the first time the full life story of this brilliant scientist who was also a master teacher, a polymath, and a delightful friend and correspondent. Based on full access to Hutchinson’s 2011 Noteworthy Books 125 archives and extensive interviews with him and many who knew him, the author evaluates his important contributions to modern ecology and his profound influence as a mentor. Filled with information available nowhere else, the book draws a vibrant portrait of an original scientific thinker who was also a man of remarkable personal appeal. The Art of Ecology: Writings of G. Evelyn Hutchinson. David K. Skelly, David M. Post, and Melinda D. Smith (Editors). 2010. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 368 pp. $22, softcover. ISBN 9780300154498. During the twentieth century, ecology evolved from a collection of natural history facts to a rigorous, analytical discipline with a rich body of theory. No single person is more responsible for this change than G. Evelyn Hutchinson. This collection of selected writings showcases Hutchinson’s dynamic and wide-ranging mind as well as his keen wit. Original essays by scientists and historians underscore the continuing relevance of Hutchinson’s ideas. Serpentine: The Evolution and Ecology of a Model System. Susan Harrison and Nishanta Rajakaruna (Editors). 2011. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 464 pp. $56, hardcover. ISBN 9780520268357. Serpentine soils have long fascinated biologists for the specialized floras they support and the challenges they pose to plant survival and growth. This volume focuses on what scientists have learned about major questions in earth history, evolution, ecology, conservation, and restoration from the study of serpentine areas, especially in California. Results from molecular studies offer insight into evolutionary patterns, while new ecological research examines both species and communities. Serpentine highlights research whose breadth provides context and fresh insights into the evolution and ecology of stressful environments. Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks. William C. Tweed. 2010. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 248 pp. $24.95, hardcover. ISBN 97805202655787. In this provocative walking meditation, forest ranger and writer William Tweed takes us to California’s spectacular High Sierra to discover a new vision for our national parks as they approach their 100th anniversary facing dramatic changes. Tweed, who worked among the Sierra Nevada’s big peaks and big trees for more than thirty years, has now hiked more than 200 miles along California’s John Muir Trail in a personal search for answers: How do we address the climate change we are seeing even now—in melting glaciers in Glacier National Park, changing rainy seasons on Mt Rainer, and more fire in the West’s iconic parks. Should we intervene where we can to preserve biodiversity? Should the parks merely become ecosystem museums that exhibit famous landscapes and species? Tweed weaves his experiences along this high-altitude trail together with reflections on the people and ideas that created the parks and on their status and meaning today. Asking how we can make these magnificent parks relevant for the next generation, Tweed’s journey ultimately shows why we must do just that. Shorebird Ecology, Conservation, and Management. Mark A. Colwell. 2010. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 344 pp. $60, hardcover. ISBN 9780520266407. Shorebirds are model organisms for illustrating the principles of ecology and excellent subjects for research. Their mating systems are as diverse as any avian group, their migrations push the limits of endurance, and their foraging is easily studied in the open habitats of estuaries and freshwater wetlands. This comprehensive text explores the ecology, conservation, and management of these fascinating birds. Beginning chapters examine phylogenetic relationships between shorebirds and other birds, and cover shorebird morphology, anatomy, and physiology. A section on breeding biology looks in detail at their reproductive biology. Because shorebirds spend much of their time away from breeding areas, a substantial section on nonbreeding biology covers migration, foraging ecology, and social behavior. The text also covers shorebird demography, population size, and management issues related to habitat, predators, and human disturbances. Throughout, it emphasizes applying scientific knowledge to the conservation of shorebird populations, many of which are unfortunately in decline. Terrestrial Vertebrates of Pennsylvania: A Complete Guide to Species of Conservation Concern. Michael A. Steele, Margaret C. Brittingham, Timothy J. Maret, and Joseph F. Merritt (Editors). 2010. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 528 pp. $55, hardcover. ISBN 9780801895449. This review 126 Northeastern Naturalist Vol. 18, No. 1 of Pennsylvania’s conservation efforts is the first book to focus exclusively on the state’s vertebrates of concern. The 133 species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals discussed in this book are Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable terrestrial vertebrates. Each species is described in a full account that details basic biology and includes photographs and range maps. The accompanying narratives focus on conservation priorities, research needs, and management recommendations. Featuring information compiled from a broad array of sources and by contributors who are recognized authorities on their respective species, this volume is a model for wildlife conservation across much of the northeastern United States. A road map that reveals the Keystone State’s most sensitive species and what can be done to manage and conserve these important natural resources, Terrestrial Vertebrates of Pennsylvania is a valuable tool for wildlife managers, conservationists, and naturalists. Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity. Peter S. Ungar. 2010. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 320 pp. $95, hardcover. ISBN 9780801896682. In this unique book, Peter S. Ungar tells the story of mammalian teeth from their origin through their evolution to their current diversity. Mammal Teeth traces the evolutionary history of teeth, beginning with the very first mineralized vertebrate structures half a billion years ago. Ungar describes how the simple conical tooth of early vertebrates became the molars, incisors, and other forms we see in mammals today. Evolutionary adaptations changed pointy teeth into flatter ones, with specialized shapes designed to complement the corresponding jaw. Ungar explains tooth structure and function in the context of nutritional needs. The myriad tooth shapes produced by evolution offer different solutions to the fundamental problem of how to squeeze as many nutrients as possible out of foods. The book also highlights Ungar’s own path-breaking studies that show how microwear analysis can help us understand ancient diets. The final part of the book provides an in-depth examination of mammalian teeth today, surveying all orders in the class, family by family. Ungar describes some of the more bizarre teeth, such as tusks, and the mammal diversity that accompanies these morphological wonders. Mammal Teeth captures the evolution of mammals, including humans, through the prism of dental change. Synthesizing decades of research, Ungar reveals the interconnections among mammal diet, dentition, and evolution. His book is a must-read for paleontologists, mammalogists, and anthropologists. Rabbits: The Animal Answer Guide. Susan Lumpkin and John Seidensticker. 2010. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 272 pp. $24.95, softcover. ISBN 9780801897894. Did you know that there are more than 90 species of rabbits, hares, and pikas, rabbits’ little-known cousins? And that new species are still being found? Or that baby rabbits nurse from their mothers only once a day? How about that some people brew medicinal tea from rabbit pellets? Wildlife conservationists Susan Lumpkin and John Seidensticker have all the answers—from the mundane to the unbelievable— about the world’s leaping lagomorphs. To some, rabbits are simply a docile pet for the classroom or home. To others, they are the cute animals munching on clover or the pests plaguing vegetable gardens. Whatever your interest, in Rabbits: The Animal Answer Guide you will discover that they are a more complex group than you might have first imagined. Lumpkin and Seidensticker take these floppy-eared creatures out of the cabbage patch and into the wild, answering 95 frequently asked questions about these familiar and fascinating animals. With informative photographs and an accessible format, Rabbits: The Animal Answer Guide is the one resource you will need to learn about rabbits’ anatomy and physiology, evolutionary history, ecology, behavior, and their relationships with humans. Lumpkin and Seidensticker also talk about conservation, because while rabbits may breed like, well, rabbits, several species are among the most endangered animals on Earth. The Northeastern 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 northeastern US. Accompanying short, descriptive summaries of the text are also welcome.