Princeton University Press

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The Titles


Insect Hormones, by Frederick Nijhout
Parasitoids: Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology, by H. C. J. Godfray
Social Evolution in Ants, by Andrew F. G. Bourke and Nigel R. Franks
Dung Beetle Ecology, by Ilkka Hanski and Yves Cambefort (Eds)
The Butterflies of Costa Rica Vol.1, by Philip J. DeVries
The Butterflies of Costa Rica Vol.2, by Philip J. DeVries

The Reviews

Insect Hormones

by Frederick Nijhout

ISBN = 0 691 05912 8 Pbk
Price = $19.95
Published = 1994, this issue 1998
Review written = 10/November/1998
267 pages
75 b/w illustrations

A well received addition to the world of entomological literature, this book provides an up to date synthesis of the current state of insect endocrinology. Bringing to students and lay people alike a readable introduction to what is one of the largest and most consistently research branches of entomology. As in all branches of entomology, insect endocrinology has seen some major advances in the last two decades which have not, until the publication of this book been easily available outside of the original papers. This book then fills a considerable gap in the literature.

The multitude of ways in which hormones control insect life history, development and responsitivity are a fascinating field of study. Frederick Nyjhout is an internationally recognised expert and an accomplished writer. His deep understanding of his subject and his constant emphasis on how hormonal changes relate to the insects real-time life attributes make this a very readable book. The 75 b/w figures including molecular characterisation and flow diagrams greatly help facilitate understanding. While for those wishing to know more the 35 page bibliography gives and excellent doorway into the vast sum of knowledge represented in this book.

Chapter titles include: The Anatomy of the Insect Endocrine System; Mechanisms of Hormone Action and Experimental Methods; Metabolism and Homeostasis; The Development of Physiology and Growth; Moulting and Metamorphosis; The Endocrine Control of Moulting and Metamorphosis; Reproduction; Diapause; Polyphenisms; Hormones and Behaviour; Epilogue.


Highly Recommended

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Parasitoids: Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology

by H. C. J. Godfray

ISBN = 0 691 00047 6 Pbk
Price = $25.00
Published = 1994
Review written = 20/May/1998
473 pages

Parasitoids are one of the great controlling influences on arthropod numbers worldwide, but because many of them are small their important role in Insect and Arachnid population dynamics is fully appreciated by few people. This excellent work by H.C.J.Godfray joins the later publication on Parasitic Wasps in making available to students and workers outside this field some of the wealth of information that has been discovered by researchers of the last couple of decades. In this book the work of applied and evolutionary biologists, both of whom have a special interest in parasitoids is here brought together in a readable synthesis that will benefit interested readers throughout the world.

The book starts with an introduction to parasitoids and the parasitoid way of life. It then quickly moves on to a series of indepth dicussions of the major ecological facets that govern the parasitoid lifestyle. This work is extremely detailed in places and contains a wealth of fascinating information, however unless you have a specific need to know some of the information contained or a very strong interest in the subject you will find reading it as a book hard going. It is primarily aimed at university students and research workers. There are, as in any publication, some small errors which have crept in, such as on page 20 where it says, referring to dipterous parasitoids "figure 1.1 illustrates two important families" when in fact figure 1.1 only llustrates one dipterous family.

Contains the following sections:- Introduction; Host Location; Oviposition Behavior; Sex Ratio; Selfish Genetic Elements; The Immature Parasitoid; The Adult Parasitoid; Life Histories and and Community Patterns; References; Author Index; Subject Index and Taxonomic Index


Recommended

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Social Evolution in Ants

by Andrew F. G. Bourke and Nigel R. Franks

ISBN = 0 691 04426 0 Pbk
Price = $19.95 Pbk or $55.00 Hbk
Published = 1995
Review written = 20/February/1998
592 pages

The evolution of sociality and or eusociality is a hot topic at the moment, there are at least 5 books in print at the moment dealing solely with this topic. There are many reasons why it is such a well written about subject. One of these is that nobody really knows how sociality and especially eusociality as experienced in some of the Aculeates and the Isoptera in particular came about. The Phantom of altruistic behaviour troubled Darwin and still haunts many and evolutionary biologists mind. Ultimately the human mind is not happy with the idea that our genes may program us to act as if our minds and bodies were merely dispensable vessels or tools generated and selected because they perpetuate the immortality of a few strings of DNA. Bourke and Franks are strongly in favour of this view (currently a very popular intellectual idea) and their language in the first few chapters is very anthropomorphic, genes do this and genes want that etc, considering the accusations they through at other authors of lack of scientific rigidity this is quite surprising. Personally I think this thinking is indicative of a pendulum swing that will eventually rest with the saner acceptance that the 'replicator' and 'non-replicator' aspects of our and other lives are in partnership in the maintenance of life.

The big problem with altruistic behaviour is not how it is maintained, that is fairly well understood, but how it gets started. All mutations are singular in their origins. Unfortunately this work like others before it fails to offer a convincing scenario to explain how the very first occurrences of a new gene for altruistic behaviour survive. Bourke and Franks are ardent supporters of Kin Selection Theory and either dismiss too quickly opposing ideas such as the work of Mary West-Eberhard or else dilute and expand Kin Selection Theory to swallow other ideas whole. One is reminded of the history of China during the first 4 chapters, everything eventually becomes Kin Selection Theory.

Most of the book though is a comprehensive and well written text drawing together a large body of modern thought and research into coherent discussion of the many complexities involved in the evolution of sociality particularly eusociality in ants. The first 4 chapters set the pace bringing in the main concepts which need to be understood before the finer arguments can be followed. The remaining chapters take a closer look at a number of important issues related to or constraining eusociality in ants. This is an enormous task there are 8 to 10 thousand species of ants and a huge literature has accrued on them over the last hundred years. The 74 page bibliography containing over 1200 references gives just a hint of the depth of this work

Contains the following sections:- Kin selection; Levels-of-selection Theory, Gene Selectionism and Insect Societies; Kin Selection, Haplodiploidy, and the Evolution of Eusociality in Ants; Sex Ratio Theory for the Social Hymenoptera; Tests of sex Ratio Theory in Ants; Kin conflict over Sex allocation; Kin Conflict over Reproduction; Evolution and Ecology of Multiple-queen Societies; Life History Theory in Ants; The Diversity of Life Histories in Ants; Mating biology; The Division of Labour.

This book is a must for all students of sociality as well as for all those studying ants.
Recommended

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The Butterflies of Costa Rica Vol.2

and Their Natural History, Riodinidae, by Philip J. DeVries.

ISBN = 0 691 02889 3 Pbk
Price = $23.95 Pbk or $70.00 Hbk
Published = 1997
Review written = 20/November/1997
288 pages
25 colour plates, 27 SEMs 13 line illus, 13 tables, 3 maps.

This is the first in a series of works on the butterflies of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a small country of 19,600 square miles, within this area it contains a great diversity of habitat and subsequently a great diversity of insects. The butterflies of Costa Rica are as varied and as beautiful as the habitats that they live in and amounts to well over 1 000 species 250 of which are dealt with in this book. The butterfly fauna of Costa Rica is often representative of the entire Central American fauna, amounting to about 85 percent of the Rionididae making this book an excellent resource for travellers to that area.

This is not just a guide to species identification, as with a number of modern butterfly books the author has a real commitment to stimulating his readers interest in the natural history of butterflies, to make people view them as a functioning and important part of the dynamic living environment where they live.
The book has a massive 110 page introduction to the biology of butterflies in general with specific reference to the Costa Rican fauna including a 9 page section on relationships with ants. Within this section is a nice set of cameos of past butterfly workers in costa Rica. Making this book almost a work on butterfly ecology with an identification guide thrown in for good measure. Following this the main body of the work proceeds, giving a species by species account of the Costa Rican fauna. Each family, subfamily and genus are introduced separately, then each species is described giving; FW length, range, larval host plant where known, a brief but inclusive description of what is known of the biology of the early stages, a description of the adult, and some comments on habitats and localities.

Contains the following sections: Butterfly life cycle and morphology, Pathogens, parasites, parasitoids, predators and butterfly defenses against them, Mimics don't hide they advertise, Butterfly biologists and the new world, Systematics and neotropical butterflies, Collecting and studying butterflies, Faunal regions, habitats, and butterfly diversity, A guide to the butterflies of Costa Rica. Four major appendices further enhance the value of this book: i) The major collecting localities in costa Rica, ii) Host records for genera of Riodinidae in Costa Rica, iii) Tribal and subfamily character diagnoses of Riodinidae, iv) Systematic checklist of Costa Rican butterflies.

All in all this book is even better value for money than its predecessor the authors love for his subject is reflected well in the quality of this production.
Highly Recommended

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The Butterflies of Costa Rica Vol.1

and Their Natural History, Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, by Philip J. DeVries.

ISBN = 0 691 02403 0 Pbk
Price = $24.00 Pbk or $60.00 Hbk
Published = 1987
Review written = 20/November/1997
327 pages
51 colour plates, 48 b/w illustrations, 27 line illus, 2 maps.

This is the first in a series of works on the butterflies of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a small country of 19,600 square miles, within this area it contains a great diversity of habitat and subsequently a great diversity of insects. The butterflies of Costa Rica are as varied and as beautiful as the habitats that they live in and amounts to well over 1 000 species 543 of which are dealt with in this book. The butterfly fauna of Costa Rica is often representative of the entire Central American fauna, amounting to 93 percent of the Papilionidae and 92 percent of the Pieridae making this book an excellent resource for travellers to that area.

This is not just a guide to species identification, as with a number of modern butterfly books the author has a real commitment to stimulating his readers interest in the natural history of butterflies, to make people view them as a functioning and important part of the dynamic living environment where they live.
The book has a 57 page introduction giving a brief summary of the biology of butterflies in general with specific reference to the Costa Rican fauna. Following this the main body of the work proceeds, giving a species by species account of the Costa Rican fauna. Each family, subfamily and genus are introduced separately, then each species is described giving; FW length, range, larval host plant where known, a brief but inclusive description of what is known of the biology of the early stages, a description of the adult, and some comments on habitats.

Contains the following sections: Butterfly life cycle and morphology, Pathogens, parasites, parasitoids, predators and butterfly defenses against them, Mimics don't hide they advertise, Systematics and neotropical butterflies, Collecting and studying butterflies, Faunal regions, habitats, and butterfly diversity, A guide to the butterflies of Costa Rica. Three major appendices further enhance the value of this book: i) The major collecting localities in costa Rica, ii) Larval host plant relationships, iii) Systematic checklist of Costa Rican butterflies.

All in all this is a very beautiful book.
Highly Recommended

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Dung Beetle Ecology

by Ilkka Hanski and Yves Cambefort (Eds)

ISBN = 0 691 083739 3
Price = $53.50 Hbk
Published = 1991
Review written = 25/July/1997
481 pages

Dung Beetles are one of the great unsung heroes of our world. There are about 7 000 species world wide and between them they manage to clear up the mess left behind by most of the rest of the animal kingdom. To put it bluntly, without dung beetles the whole world would be one large dung heap ruled by flies. Therefore it is with great pleasure that I review this excellent book on dung beetle ecology. This work is well composed, giving the interested reader a balanced journey through the wondrous world of dung disposal. It is truly global in its nature and pleasantly easy to read throughout, a model example of this sort of literature, well done to the editors. Anybody who has even th slightest interest in these lowly but hard working animals could not do better than to start with this book. Though it will be of great value to many students and university graduates as well as it contains a wealth of information not synthesized elsewhere. It also contains 46 pages of appendices, an index of Genera and a 42 page bibliography which add greatly to its value as a starting place for research.

The work is divided into 3 sections. Part 1 is an introduction to dung beetles, their ecology, evolution and distribution. It contains 4 chapters; The Dung Insect Community, From Saprophagy to Coprophagy, Dung Beetle Population Biology, and Biogeography and Evolution.
Part 2 is a series of closer looks at a variety of dung beetle assemblages, it contains 10 chapters. North Temperate Dung Beetles, South Temperate Dung Beetles, Dung Beetles in Subtropical North America, Dung Beetles Southern Africa, Dung Beetles in Tropical Savannas, Dung Beetles in Tropical Forests in South-East Asia, Dung Beetles in Tropical Forests in Africa, Dung Beetles in Tropical American Forests, Dung Beetles of the Sahel Region, Montane Dung Beetles, Native and introduced Dung Beetles in Australia.
Part 3 is a synthesis of the the ideas brought to light in the earlier chapters of the book as as such contains some of the most stimulating chapters in the book; Spatial Processes, Competition in Dung Beetles, Resource Partitioning, Species Richness, and Epilogue.

All in all this is a thoroughly enjoyable book packed with loads of fascinating information, a must not only for schools but also for all intelligent readers with even a slight interest in natural history. Highly Recommended.

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