Academic Press

 


 

 

The Titles


The Butterflies of Hong Kong, by M. J. Bascombe, G. Johnston and F. S. Bascombe.
The Butterflies of Papua New Guinea, by Michael Parsons
Insects in a Changing Environment, by R. Harrington and N. E. Stork (Eds)
The Conservation of Bees, by Andrew Matheson, Stephen L. Buchmann, Christopher O’Toole, Paul Westrich and Ingrid H. Williams (Editors)
Sawfly Life History Adaptations to Woody Plants, by Michael Wagner and Kenneth F. Raffa

The Reviews

The Butterflies of Hong Kong

By M. J. Bascombe, G. Johnston and F. S. Bascombe.

ISBN = 0 12 080290 2
Price = $149.95 HBk
Published = 1999
Review written = 10/Dec/1999
422 A4 pages
222 colour plates,

What is there really to say - it's brilliant.

Hong Kong is a relatively small area of land and to have a book of this magnitude dedicated to its 219 species of butterflies is an abundance of riches. The book contain 422 pages as well as 222 A4 colour plates - over a page per species. If this wasn't enough, all the text sections of the book are liberally dotted with colour figures as well as numerous b/w illustrations.This is an encyclopaedic work, a continuation of a trend of the last decade to produce butterfly regional fauna of greater and greater completeness and beauty. Though lacking some of the artistic spirit of Butterflies of Tunisia and Morocco, this is still a magnificent work.

Part 1 contains 4 chapters. The first is a 12-page introduction to Hong Kong, its biogeography with specific reference to butterfly habitats. Chapter 2 continues this theme looking particularly at butterflies, their habitats and distribution within Hong Kong. Chapter 3, a 44 page introduction to the biology of butterflies, is excellently illustrated with many fine photos and diagrams. Chapter 4 introduces the topics of classification and nomenclature.

Part 2 is the species notes and obviously occupies the bulk of the book. It takes 300 A4 pages to deal with 219 species, some indication of the amount of information supplied on each species. The addition of numerous colour figures of adults and some juvenile stages throughout this section is a pleasant addition to a book of this form which also contains a set of plates. This section also contains keys and genitalia drawings which should enable any species from the area to be identified.

The colour plates are excellently produced, the adults are dealt with in the first 86 plates, leaving 136 plates dedicated to juvenile stages a luxury of colour. The book contain 6 appendices: i) Checklist and arrangement of species; ii) Miscellaneous species; iii) Adult food sources and other attractants in Hong Kong; iv) A list of known parasitoids in Hong Kong; v) Rearing and recording immature stages in Hong Kong; vi) A small selection of useful books and addresses.

Finally there are 8 pages of references and two indexes, one to butterflies and one to technical terms.

All in all this is one of the most complete regional faunas for butterflies I have ever seen. Well worth the money for anyone planning more than a cursory look at the Butterflies of Hong Kong.

Return to the Titles


Return to The Book Review Page

The Butterflies of Papua New Guinea

Their systematics and Biology. By Michael Parsons

ISBN = 0 12 545555 0
Price = $185.00 HBk
Published = 1999
Review written = 29/May/1999
736 A4 pages
136 colour plates, 26 B/W plates, 57 text figures and 8 tables

It seems to me that these regional butterfly works just keep getting bigger. Last year saw two quite large book added to the lepidoptera shelf, "Butterflies of Greece" and "Butterflies of Russia". The Butterflies of Papua New Guinea is however nearly equal to both of these together. Including the plates this work is a massive 900 A4 pages and should only be placed on sturdy tables.

Part of the reason for this size is the inclusion by the author of a very comprehensive introduction to both butterflies and the fauna of PNG. The other reason is the shear number of species involved. PNG has a butterfly fauna amounting to some 820+ species and they are all covered by this work. A preferable situation I think than having several seperate but smaller volumes which come out with years in between them. Also this completness makes the book better value for money, in terms of butterflies per pound, than its £185.00 would at first seem.

The introduction, as I have already said, is extensive. It is infact a complete textbook on butterfly ecology with special reference to PNG and contains all the information you could ask for either as a butterfly novice or a tyro. The bulk of the work is the systematic section which occupies 508 pages and contains the species accounts for the 820+ mainland PNG. Though I am by no means an expert on the PNG butterfly this systematic section is also extensive, containing good introductions to family and genus as well as supplying all the usual information on species. In many cases additional notes give useful extra information on taxonomic changes and collecting history.

The colour plates are as good as any I have seen, and better than some, illustrating 3000+ specimens without any of the plates looking unpleasantly crowded. As well as the standard plates there are 32 plates of colour photos, mostly of immature stages which add pleasantly to an already fine work. There are a few distribution maps thoughnot many and if this work could have been improved it is in the inclusion of more of these. The addition of 22 B/W plates of genitalia, 11 appendices and a 38 bibliography complete this work as a scientific treatise.

Contains the following chapters:- Scope and Format of the Book; New Guinea Past and Present; World Faunal Regions and Butterfly Diversity; Origins and Composition of the New Guinea Fauna; A History of Butterfly Collecting in New Guinea; Butterfly Conservation and Commerce in Papua New Guinea; Aspects of Butterfly Ecology in Papua New Guinea; Mimicry in New Guinea Butterflys; Collection and Study; Adult Structure; Classification and Nomenclature; Superfamily Hesperioidea; Superfamily Papilionoidea; Family Pieridae; Family Lycaenidae; Family Nymphalidae; Keys to PNG species for difficult groups; Appendices; Bibliography; Glossary; Index.

All in all a magnificent effort that will grace any academic or collectors library. Highly Recommended.

Return to the Titles


Return to The Book Review Page

Insects in a Changing Environment

by R. Harrington and N. E. Stork (Eds)

ISBN = 0 12 326430 8
Price = $63.00 HBk
Published = 1995
Review written = 14/April/1999
535 pages
16 colour plates

This is the publication of the presentations given at the 17th Symposium of the Royal Entomological Society of London 7-10 September 1993. As J. M. Elliot explains in the "Quantitative Ecology of the Brown Trout" accurately assigning observed variations in an animals population structure and distribution to a particular suite of habitat or environmental changes is extremely difficult. It is in fact nearly impossible unless you have data sets covering longish time periods which allow you to tease out the various natural rhythms from environmentally stimulated change. To be able to designate exactly which population changes result from which causes is one of the objectives that conservationists most desire as a result of scientific research. However even the most ardent conservationist has to accept the limits in our understanding.

This book does not set out to be a definitive text, or information source on the effects of environmental change it is merely a milestone marking our current position along the path to understandings we need. It does however point out that environmental change is not solely a result of mankind's recent activities but has been a constant factor in the evolution of life on this planet. The questions it asks, as much as the data it supplies will make it a valuable resource to students of ecology and entomology all around the world.

The book is divided into 5 parts and 26 chapters. The first part is an introduction and contains only one chapter by J. H. Lawton. Lawton uses Uvarov 1931 to remind us of what I have always called the "snapshot effect" i.e. the tendency for us humans to see the world from the point of view of a very short period of time. Insects have been around for nearly 400 million years and global climate change is not a new thing to them, yet species diversity seems to thrive on these sorts of change.

Section 2 starts by taking a look at environmental changes across the quaternary before moving on to several on individual species or groups: European Corn Borer, Tetse Fly and Aphids. For these insects, as for all to a certain extent a changing environment includes changes in the way we humans see and respond to insects.

Section 3 deals with changes in gas and pollutant levels, including an excellent chapter on metals as part of an insects environment by S. P. Hopkin. Part 4 deals equally well with the problems of land use change with good general chapters by M. Samways, M. B. Usher and a pertinent one on insect extinctions by N. A. Mawdsley and N. E. Stork.Luff and Woiwoods chapter on insects as indicators of land use change is equally well written though not as broad in its scope. Section 5 is 'Short Communications' and contains 10 shorter chapters on a variety of subjects many of which are complementary to one or more of the earlier chapters.

On the whole this book is quite thought provoking and information dense. It will undoubtedly be of great use to many students of ecology at many different levels of expertise.

Recommended.

Return to the Titles


Return to The Book Review Page

The Conservation of Bees

by Andrew Matheson, Stephen L. Buchmann, Christopher O’Toole, Paul Westrich and Ingrid H. Williams (Editors)

ISBN = 0 12 479740 7
Price = $
Published = 1996
Review written = 12/October/1998
254 pages
8 colour photos

Bees are an important aspect of the ecology of any habitat. Everybody knows that they pollinate flowers and this helps seeds and fruits to set. For most people bees mean the European Honey Bee Apis mellifera, but there are many others. There are in fact several hundred species of Bumble Bees and thousands of species of solitary bee.

Solitary bees, as their name suggests, do not live in large colonies like honey bees but nest singly, though these single nests may be highly aggregated. The solitary bees are also important in pollination ecology, they often pollinate flowers that honey bees don’t, and unlike honey bees their existence has not been consciously abetted by mankind. Undoubtedly many species have benefited from gardening and landscaping practices, but more commonly farming methods have been seriously disadvantageous to their ecology. Many species have complicated habitat requirements, nesting in one habitat, and foraging in another and many are currently rare and endangered. Bumble bees are also important pollinators, working longer hours and in worse weather than honey bees. They are also more easily adapted to working inside greenhouses. All of this makes it a shame that so little is known about and so little consideration taken of these small caretakers of our environment.

The 18 chapters of this book discuss all these topics with heavy emphasis on the problems associated with conservation. The authors are all experts in their field and are drawn from all over the world, although there is a bias towards Europe.

This is an important book for conservationists and particularly for those involved in the setting up and/or managing of nature reserves, although I would also recommend it to students of entomology and ecology.

Highly recommended.

Return to the Titles


Return to The Book Review Page

Sawfly Life History Adaptations to Woody Plants

by Michael Wagner and Kenneth F. Raffa

ISBN = 0 12 730030 9
Price = $67.00
Published = 1993
Review written = 1/October/1997
581 pages

Sawflies are an interesting and often attractive group of insects with about 8 000 species world wide. They are also economically important, with many major arboreal and horticultural pests species included within their number. This book, comprised of contributions from an international group of over 30 scientists and researchers is the first comprehensive attempt to review the biology of these animals. The work is heavily focused towards those species, and species groups, which specialise in feeding on woody plants during their larval stage.

The book takes as its basic premise the co-evolution of woody plants and their predators, in this case particularly sawflies. Which gives it a reasonable focus within which to discuss the evolution of the varied life history strategies utilised by sawflies which have brought them success as a group on the global scale. This is a very comprehensive work, unfortunately the chapters are referenced individually which as I have said before is a real nuisance. However the that is a small disappointment and the general excellence of this work and the shear density of information contained within it will ensure that this is the key work for all researchers working on sawfly biology and the trees they affect.

The work is divided into 5 sections and just reading through the chapter headings will give you some idea of the breadth and scope of this work. Contains chapters on: Part 1) Systematics, Life History, and Distribution of Sawflies, Life history Diversity in Sawflies, Sex Ratio Variation in sawflies, Feeding Strategies of Sawflies, Pheromone Biology of Sawflies. Part 2) Defusing host Defenses; Ovipositional Adaptations of Sawflies to Plant Resins, Effects of Plant Chemistry and Phenology on Sawfly Behaviour and Development, Tree Response to Stress: a Role in Sawfly Outbreaks?, Adaptive Radiation in Gall Induction. Part 3) Defense Strategies of Folivorous Sawflies, Adaptations of Galling Sawflies to Natural Enemies. Part 4) Influence of Stand Characteristics and Site Quality on sawfly Population Dynamics, The Role of Plant Development and Architecture in Regulating Sawfly Populations, Sawflies and Inducible Resistance in Woody Plants, Biology and Population Dynamics of the Common Pine Sawfly Diprion pini in Russia, European Pine Sawfly and Microbial Interactions Mediated by the Host Plant. Part 5) Outbreaks in Diprionid Sawflies: Why some Species and Not Others?, Life History Strategies of Australian Pergid Sawflies and Their Interactions with host Plants, Life History Patterns of North american Tree-Feeding Sawflies, Implications of Sawfly-host Plant and Natural Enemy Interactions to herbivore Insect Ecology.

All in all an excellent addition to the world of entomological literature and a must for any academic library. Highly Recommended

Return to the Titles


Return to The Book Review Page


Gordon's Entomological Home Page

Insects Home Page

© www.earthlife.net