Gem Publishing

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Gem Publishing company, Brightwood, Brightwell, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. OX10 0QD Phone + 44 (0) 1491 833882


 

 

The Titles


Handbook of the Palaearctic Macrolepidoptera,Volume 1 - Sesiidae - Clearwing Moths, by Karel Spatenka, Oleg Garbunov, Zdenek Lasluvka, Ivo Toserski and Yutaka Arita
The Moths and Butterflies of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, by By F. H. N. Smith
Butterflies on British and Irish Offshore Islands, by Roger Dennis and Tim Shreeve
The Butterflies of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia , by John Tennent

The Reviews

Handbook of the Palaearctic Macrolepidoptera

Volume 1 - Sesiidae - Clearwing Moths, by Karel Spatenka, Oleg Garbunov, Zdenek Lasluvka, Ivo Toserski and Yutaka Arita

Artists: Bohumil Stary, Ruth Holzenger and Frontisek Gregor
ISBN = 0 906 802 08 3
Price = £120.00
Published = 1999
Review written = 17/December/1999
592 pages
487 colour illustrations

This beautiful volume is the first in an ambitious and important new series destined to update and replace the now seriously out of date work by Seitz on Palaearctic Macrolepidoptera (1905-1954). The number of known species has increased considerably since Seitz's time, so has the number of lepidopterists, the means of making taxonomic consideration and access to many parts of the Palaearctic. For these reasons this series is much needed and will be welcomed by lepidopterists all around the world.

This volume is well produced, easy to use and well illustrated. Some specialists may want to argue about some of the species placements but with all the systematic information supplied there is no real reason for complaint.

The work contains keys to sub-family genera and species for all the 309 species included within its 500+ pages. There are also genitalia for all the 260 something species for which these are needed. Added to this 57 colour plates illustrate the 309 species with 489 beautiful and clear illustrations.

The systematic section includes a complete diagnosis (description) as well as notes on varieties, genitalia, similar species, bionomics and distribution, the latter is aided by inset maps. Also included are 25 pages of bibliography, a list of acronyms, a general introduction, a checklist and a systematic list of host plants.

All in all this is a promising and enjoyable start to a new and important series.

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The Moths and Butterflies of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

by F. H. N. Smith

ISBN = 0 906 80207 5
Price = £
Published = 1997
Review written = 17/December/1998
434 pages
152 colour plates

County species reports are always valuable additions to the literature and here as in other areas lepidopterists are rich in comparison with dipterists, hymeopterists etc, while we do not even have a UK list for Collembola yet. Nevertheless I live in Devon for which there is not a species list published yet, perhaps if I sent Roy McCormack my own records I would be able to carp about other contributions more easily. However Cornwall, at lest the northern end is not far from Devon, albeit another county, and this makes this book very useful to me.

Species accounts are generally well produced and each county can take pride in its own. This book is no exception to this rule, in fact it goes beyond most accounts. Because as well as supplying all the usual information in a clear and concise manner. Species in Bradley and Fletcher (1986) order, and the nomenclature and classification, excepting the Pyralidae, following Emmet and Heath (1991). This work also includes 152 colour plates. Though these include some scenes and commonly photographed species such as S.S. Blue (Plebjus argus), more than half are excellent close ups of micros. Apart from the main body of the work there is a 13 page introduction to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, a systematic list, an index of scientific names and an index of Common Names and 7 Appendices, including Additions since 1906, Species recorded since 1906, Key to abbreviations, Plant names, Ordinance Survey Map references, References and Biographical notes. All in all it is a well produced and useful book, my only cut is with the introduction. It commences with a quote from Thomas Boyd (1858) which starts let me commend Cornwall to the attention of all entomologists: The author then says the aim of this work is to provide a fairly complete account of what has been done since It may come as a surprise to the author but the terms entomologist and lepidopterist are not synonymous. In as much as this work reports on the lepidoptera it is excellent but there is much in the field of entomology upon which it does not touch.
Highly Recommended

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Butterflies on British and Irish Offshore Islands

by Roger Dennis and Tim Shreeve

ISBN = 0 906802 067
Price = £16.00
Published = 1996
Review written = 31/September/1998
131 pages
11 text figures

This is a book about ecology not identification, the species occurring on the islands concerned can easily be identified with one of the many guides to the butterflies of Britain and Europe. There are 219 islands large enough to maintain a butterfly population around the UK, though they all have reduced species diversity, mostly less than 30 species. Many have not been competently surveyed and in this work data from only 75 of them is used for the statistical analyses.

In this book Roger Dennis follows on from a few chapters he has previously contributed to other works to produce a scholarly statistical based analysis of the zoogeography of the occurred of species on island habitats around the British Isles. The book starts with a section on the ecology of butterflies on islands. From here it moves rapidly onto an introduction to the statistical methods used before going on to discuss species richness on islands and butterfly associations. The authors use the data from their analyses of the 75 well surveyed islands to predict species richness on the remaining60 odd islands. The work then moves on to Tim Shreeve's area of expertise and discusses migration and colonisation.

The 2nd part of the book is a compendium of records for British and Irish islands and a plea for more up-to-date records. This book is not a light read, and will I think be appreciated more by professional ecologists and university students than by lay persons with an interest in butterflies.
Highly Recommended

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The Butterflies of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia

by John Tennent

ISBN = 0 906802 059
Price = £67.00 inc. P& P
Published = July 1996
Review written = 31/July/1998
217 A4 pages
32 Plates + 18 pages of colour photos

This book is a work of art. It is also a work of science. I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of it and by the fact that a little space has been allowed to creep in here and there. So many modern regional butterfly books have everything crammed in and show very little style, a little openness makes for far pleasanter reading. This book also contains a number of little extras such as the frontispiece which shows some specimens from Linnaeus's collection sent him by Erik Bander. These specimens are now locked away for posterity in a specially built strong room at the Linnaean Society headquarters in London. For many people this will be their first chance to see these specimens figured.

A page illustrating wing notation and another listing abbreviations lead to the introduction which is mostly concerned with the history of collecting in the Maghreb states. The following section is concerned with habitats and is brought to life by 19 beautiful scenic photos, there is no text with these photos but such is the eloquence that none is needed. This is followed by a checklist of species and a page explaining the International Code of Nomenclature and the nomenclatural decisions made by the author during the compilation of this work. He has chosen to tread a middle path which inevitably will annoy some but may please many in its simple wisdom. In the main body of the work each species is described, variations noted and information supplied as to its habitat, flight times, larval food plant, range, and distribution within the Maghreb states. The plates are preceded by a glossary, a gazatteer and a list of host plants by family alphabetically. The 175 species figured are illustrated in 32 plates depicting nearly 1 500 specimens, allowing for a lot of variations to be covered. This book is also enhanced by a midpiece of 6 pages of very beautiful colour photos of butterflies in the wild. The work ends with a bibliography of more than 600 references, a list of journal name abbreviations, as used in the bibliography, and an index (of butterfly name only).

All in all this is the most stylish and beautiful of all the regional butterfly works I have reviewed, combining the beautiful photography of the "Butterflies of Greece" with the technical wisdom of the "Butterflies of Russia" and enhancing the result with its own special artistry. Well done John Tennent. Highly Recommended (Would make a beautiful pesent)

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