Social insects are a popular subject with publishers, as well as with scientists at the moment, and there are a number of books currently on the market. They all look at the subject from a slightly different perspective, though there is a reasonable amount of overlap between some of them. Part of the reason for the popularity of eusocial insects is the facility with which they can be manipulated and observed. This makes them excellent subjects for testing ecological and evolutionary theories. There is also the inherent fascination of their sociality, so like ours in someways and so unlike it in others. Though it may seem to some that social insects have an overly large slice of the literature pie, there are many aspects of insect ecology struggling for any voice at all, it must be recognised that the answer is really more books on insects all around. Compared with birds for instance even social insects are poorly represented.
This is a very competent book, which in remarkably few chapters discusses all the major aspects of the evolution of sociality in insects. It is not a book to sit down and read from cover to cover, and I feel few outside of the university system will find it of value. However to undergraduates, and graduates studying social insect colonies, particularly the Hymenoptera, it will be very useful. The discussions take the reader to the edge of our current (1995) knowledge of the factors involved and the numerous tables supply a large resource of information. Those who are uncertain of their mathematics will find this work full of equations but the authors have done their best to keep them to a minimum and to the mathematically minded, and those interested in modelling their inclusion will be more than welcome.
As I said about "Cooperation in Animals" some of the books in this series are better educational tools than others because of their construction and clarity not because of their content. These tend to be those in which a detailed study of a single organism is used to elucidate the pertinent facts relevent to the subject being discussed. I hope the editors will consider this aspect of the series production in future volumes.
Chapter 1. Introduction; Chapter 2 Inclusive fitness and sex allocation; Chapter 3 The evolution of eusociality in insects; Chapter 4 Evolution of colony characteristics; Chapter 5 Intra-colony conflicts over sex-allocation; Chapter 6 Colony-level variation of sex ratios. References (38 pages); Species Index; Subject Index.
It may seem unfair to criticise an author for what he has left out of a book when in the preface he has admitted that much has had to be left out and apologized to anyone put out by this. However if I am to be honest in my review I have to wonder at the wisdom of including a chapter on cooperation in eusocial insects and not mentioning the many other examples of cooperation that occur in the insect and arachnid world. For instance though cooperation among insects such as Dung Beetles and Burying Beetles is well researched it is poorly represented outside of the original papers and this would have been an excellent opportunity to bring this information into the light. Eusocial insects on the other hand are well represented in the literature, including two other books in this series. Even if the author though it imperative to include a chapter on the eusocial insects, and they are fascinating, this book is not so large that an extra chapter would have seemed excessive.
Though I found the other chapters fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed reading them, particularly the one on fishes, I am not a vertebrate biologist and can not offer serious criticism of them. Undoubtedly they will help sell the book because undergraduates are as prone to the 'Cute and Cuddly' syndrome as anyone else, so perhaps it will be good for insects to be there with the mammals and birds, but see above.
The unfortunate thing about this series is that the first volume I read in it was "Dunnock Behaviour and Social Evolution" by Davies. This was, and still is the best scientific read I have ever come across. It was so good in fact that I went out and bought 3 of the 4 other volumes of the series then published. They were not as good unfortunately. Later I read "Sexual Selection and the Barn Swallow" by Moller which has been the next best in the series, of those which I have read. The common denominator for the best of this series seems to be an author writing about one species and having a time series of study to use to bring out the concepts they are teaching. Those not written like this are far less readable, far more like ordinary text books, and hence much worse at getting the message across.
Still, back to "Cooperation Among Animals". There is a lot of fascinating information brought together in this volume and it will be of great value to graduates and undergraduates for years to come. However as I have inferred already I can not help thinking that it would have been a far better book if the author had restricted himself to co-operation in fish and used the tail of his own research to bring out the relevent theoretical concepts, after all the world is not short on books on social insects, or on cooperation in birds and or mammals. It is short on works on cooperation in fish and on readable treaties on the evolutionary aspects of cooperation.
It contains chapters on : Historical Perspectives on Cooperative Behaviour; Theoretical Perspectives on the Evolution of Cooperation; Cooperation in Fishes; Cooperation in Birds; Cooperation in Mammals I: Nonprimates; Cooperation in Mammals II: Nonhuman Primates; Cooperation in Insects; To the Future.
Terrence New is an internationally recognised expert in the field of invertebrate conservation. Fortunately he can also write in a coherent and readable style without sacrificing the important messages he has to deliver. This is a book which has long needed to be written because there are a lot of people in the conservation industry who need to read it. So if you are in anyway interested in or working towards the conservation of nature, particularly if you are involved in organising, planning, commissioning, financing or carrying out surveys that include invertebrates read this book.
My own most recent experience of conservation survey work where 4 experts were called in, one to deal with bats (18 UK species), one for Bryophytes (1,000 UK species), one for Angiosperms (1,500 UK species) and one for invertebrates (30 000 UK species) strongly confirms the need for this book to be read.
"Invertebrate Surveys for Conservation is a comprehensive practical guide to the ecological methods used to survey invertebrate animals in terrestrial, fresh water, and marine environments. It describes how to select particular taxonomic groups for study, how to collect and analyse samples, and how to set priorities for protection in the face of limited resources. Line drawings of apparatus, tables of survey examples and methods of specimen treatment and sample analysis are augmented by a substantial list of references to provide students and practitioners with an accessible introduction to practical invertebrate conservation" Having said that I feel that it could have used a clearer set of definitions of Flagship, Umbrella, Keystone and Indicator species, though inevitably some things have to be left out and overall the author has done a commendable job of presenting the important points relating to 'invertebrate conservation surveys' obviously a huge topic given the range and diversity of species involved.
It contains chapters on :- Invertebrates in conservation; Approaches to invertebrate surveys: posing the question; Sampling invertebrates: terrestrial environments; Sampling invertebrates: aquatic environments; Assessing use of sampling methods; Processing and interpreting invertebrate samples; Taxonomy and target groups for conservation studies; Monitoring and evaluating status; Alternative approaches to species-focused conservation; Involving people in invertebrate conservation; References; Index.
All in all an excellent addition to the worlds literature.Highly recommended
This is effectively a text book, the author states in the preface "...not for easy reading in idle moments. It is addressed to the interested, thoughtful reader who will not be deterred by the need to master scientific terms and concepts." It is true that this is not and 'easy read', though I suspect there is a market for an 'easy read' version of this fascinating topic. However for those who take the effort this book is a mine of information. It is not perfect however and some annoying features are the fact that the definitions of the abbreviations are listed in the front of the book and not under the diagrams in which they occur, and that not all the diagrams are as well keyed out as they should be, unnecessarily increasing the readers work load.
The book is divided into two sections, the first is an introduction to the ' Basic principles of insect flight '. the use of the word 'basic' here is the authors and not mine, I found it quite comprehensive, even detailed, in its morphological and kinetic descriptions. Part (ii) is the main work and is on the evolution of insect flight. The author describes and discusses the two main schools of thought on the origin of flight in insects, i.e. the Kukalova-Peck tracheal gill to flapping flight theory, and Flowers' paranotal and gliding theory. Following this the author discusses the three main evolutionary lines within winged insects, then the evolution of wing folding and the evolution of functionally 4 to 2 winged flight.
It contains chapters on :- Structure of wing apparatus; Mode of action of the wing apparatus; The aerodynamics of insect flight; Flight and behaviour; The origins of flight and wings in insects; Early forms of flight; Flight based on hindwings; From functionally four-winged flight to functionally two-winged flight; Progress in insect flight; Looking into the past: the process of evolution and insect wing apparatus; References; Taxonomic index; Subject index.
This is the only work of its kind currently in print, or up-to-date on this fascinating subject and will be of immense value to interested students all across the world. Recommended
The order Araneae is a large and popular one, comprising some 34 000 species, yet most of us know even less about them than we do about their numerous cousins the Insects. Considering their attractiveness, the diversity of their ecology and the strong emotions they elicit from so many people, there are surprisingly few good books on them around. Foelix's book is a text book (the only one as far as I know) on spiders, but do not let those words ' text book ' put you off. It is as lucidly written and as easy to read as either Bristowe's "The World of Spiders" or Hill yard's more recent "The Book of the Spider". However in being a text it complements these other works in containing a greater degree of up to date information on Metabolism, Neurobiology and Physiology and less on the ecology and habits of individual species.
It contains chapters on; Functional Anatomy, Metabolism, Neurobiology, Spider webs, Locomotion and Prey Capture, Phylogeny and Systematics, Reproduction, Development and Ecology. It also includes a comprehensive 45 page bibliography. This work is an upgrading of his already justly honoured 1979 work of the same title. Combining all the expertise which made the first edition such a success with the very latest in modern spider ecology and taxonomy this book at a mere £25.00 for the paperback version is excellent value. It must I think be an essential addition to any arachnologist's, public or educational establishment's reference library.
This is an excellent new identification guide to African butterflies with ecology thrown in as a bonus, in fact for Kenya it represents not only a new but a first comprehensive account of the regions butterflies and is therefore a very welcome work. The first 90 pages are an introduction to the ecology of Kenyan butterflies. This includes chapters on; Butterflies and other insects, the lifecycle of Kenyan Butterflies, the adult Butterfly, Butterfly variation, Butterfly behaviour, enemies and defence, African Butterfly biogeography, Butterfly distribution and habitats in Kenya, Butterfly migration, Butterflies as pests and a short section on Butterfly classification.
The second section, making up the bulk of the book, contains descriptions of each of the 879 species (including 6 new species and 2 new genera) listed. This description includes notes on identification, habitats, early stages and distribution. This section also includes the 64 colour plates which include photos of set specimens, generally only one set of wings for the larger species. It also contains 2 indices, one to scientific names and one to common English names. Finally there is a 10 page update at the back of the book covering the changes in nomenclature and the 30 new species discovered since the book was published. This is an impressive work as field guides go and will be of great use to anyone studying, or wishing to identify African butterflies.
The Lepidoptera are a large (c. 125 000 species) and immensely popular order of insects, and though numerous books have been published on them, these are normally taxonomic i.e. guides to identification, or relate to finding and collecting adults and or finding, collecting and breeding out larvae. This is the first major work devoted entirely to the Lepidoptera in general in about 40 years and it is unusual in that it focuses most strongly on physical form and its functionality in relationship to life history. It is really a text book on the lepidoptera, and though it is well written it is not a book to sit down and read from cover to cover just for pleasure. Rather it is a book to keep on your shelf and refer to time and again whenever a question arises that relates to the lepidoptera. It is truly global in its scope, covering all the lepidoptera and drawing examples from all over the world. Being a general introduction it does not contain species lists, keys, or distribution maps, further it contains no or very little histological and neurological information, as the author explains in the introduction reference is made to the soft parts only in passing. It does however supply information on most aspects of lepidopteran ecology (excepting diapause and metamorphosis) by way of the specific morphological characteristics and adaptations which make up the lepidopteran body.
The book is divided into 3 parts, though part 2 is only 13 pages long and therefore does not comprise an equal portion of the book. Part 1 has sections dealing with form; the adult head, the adult thorax, the adult abdomen, eggs, the larval head, the larval thorax, the larval abdomen, pupae, colour, hearing, flight and scent. Part 2 is 'The Environmental and Ecological Importance of the Lepidoptera'. Part 3 is an introduction/guide to the major groups of lepidoptera, by family, and subfamily in some cases such as the Noctuidae. All in all this is a well written and extremely useful reference work, of value to all Naturalists and Secondary and Higher Educational establishments.
Migration is one of the most fascinating aspects of insect ecology. the thought of Ladybirds and Hoverflies migrating across the English Channel from Mainland Europe to the UK, or of Aphids using favorable winds to migrate 1 000 miles in 24 hours, is mind blowing, yet they are regular occurrences. Of course migration is not something just insects do, many other arthropods such as spiderlings and mites also regularly migrate as well as many vertebrates, i.e. mammals, birds and fish. However the bulk of the migratory animals on this planet are insects. This book is an introduction and more to both the facts of migration, and also to the large body of discussion which has evolved around the subject.
In this work Dingle considers migration to be: "A behaviour that takes the organism out of its current home range or habitat. Physiologically migration is characterised by a suppression or inhibition of responses to proximate stimuli emanating from resources required for vegetative functions........ Migration can be distinguished from other forms of movement because inputs that would cause an organism to cease ranging or station keeping do not cause it to stop migrating. Rather migration ceases as a result of physiological changes brought about by the movement itself" If that all sounds a bit pompous, don't worry, that is the nature of ecological definitions and not a reflection of Dingle's writing style which is clear and easy to follow. Accepting this definition of migration Dingle goes on to argue that migration is also undertaken by plants (as seeds) and fungi (as spores) as well as by animals. His definitions and subsequent arguments make a lot of sense of what has been a rather muddled field (thought wise) for some time. Dingle brings together a huge range of knowledge from a wide variety of fields to produce a fascinating new synthesis of migration.
Includes chapters on; A taxonomy of movement, Migration a definition, Patterns in migratory journeys, Methods for studying migration, Migration using winds and currents, Physiology of migration, Orientation and navigation, Seasonal migrations, Migrations to special habitats, Behavioral variation in migration, Polymorphisms and polyphenisms, Evolutionary genetics of migration, Migration and pest management and Migration and conservation. This work is well referenced and a pleasure to read, a highly commendable addition to any library.
The Hymenoptera are a diverse, economically important and fascinating group of insects, and it behoves us all to know a little more about them. They play a prominent if subtle role role in all our lives, as pests, pest control agents and pollinators they make their presence felt wherever mankind lives. This book makes an excellent introduction to the order with the one proviso that it should be called; 'The Hymenoptera of British Isles', and by giving it this name we can deal with it more honestly. Being primarily concerned with the British fauna it leaves out approximately 25% of the extant families. Worst hit are the Proctotrupoidea with only 5 of its 11 families and the Chrysidoidea with only 4 of 7 families being covered. Personally I miss most the absent aculeates which include all the Scoliidae, Masaridae, Meliponini and 99.5% of the Polistinae. However having taken all this into consideration the book is still extremely useful, particularly for people living in Northern Temperate climes.
The first 100 pages are concerned with a general introduction to the order with sections on; Diversity, Natural History, Parasitoid lifestyles, Aculeates and the development of sociality, Hymenoptera as pests, Beneficial Hymenoptera, Collecting, Rearing, Adult morphology, Larval morphology, Polymorphism, Classification and the evolution of the order. The second section of the book focuses strongly on the British fauna, and includes a key to superfamilies, and keys to families of all the British groups. It also includes a series of synopses of these families and in some cases subfamilies, these often include references to non-British fauna, widening the scope of the book. It is well written, and quite readable, with the authors taking pains to ensure that unusual and specific terminology is understood, this and the 47 pages of references make this a very useful book for interested parties at all levels of expertise, and a valuable addition to any library.
To many people the word Wasp conjures up images of the yellow an black Vespa sp., known as 'Yellow Jackets' in the USA. In fact there are many different types of wasps and even within the family Vespidae it is the subfamily Polistinae not Vespinae which makes up the bulk of the species. Within this subfamily the genus Polistes is by far the most successful with 203 species. Polistes wasps occur over most of the temperate and tropical world and are considered by many to be a model organism for the study of eusociality in invertebrates. This book is primarily about Polistessp. though other genera of paper making wasps do get a mention occasionally.
This is really a very nicely produced book, it brings together a phenomenal amount of expertise from all around the world. the chapters are loosely based on lectures given at the international workshop 'Natural History and Evolution of an Animal Society: The Paper-Wasp case.' held in Castiglioncello, Italy in 1993. Though it is a highly scientific and fully referenced work it is so constructed that the interested reader with little background knowledge could enjoy reading it. Though those that are not particularly taxonomically or seriously scientifically minded may wish to skip chapters 2,8,10 and 11, but on the whole this book is highly readable.
Chapter subjects include; Learning behaviour programs, Ecological factors influencing the colony lifecycle, Social parasitism in Polistes, Homing in Polistes, Kin recognition in Polistes, Selective altruism, The origin and maintenance of eusociality, Wasps make nests and nests make conditions. All in all this is an excellent addition to any library personal or institutional.
I will admit that I am positively biased about everything relating the Collembola, a diverse, successful, beautiful and ecologically important group of insects/hexapods, but this is a beautiful book. There has not been any modern English treatise on the Collembola since the 1950s and this is therefore a much needed work as an awful lot has changed since then.
Stephen's book is an excellent introduction to what is a fascinating group of animals, informative and easy to read it contains the following chapters. 1) General introduction, 2) Review of the Literature, 3) Evolution, systematics and biogeography, 4) Ecomorphology and anatomy, 5) Taxonomic methods and the species concept in Collembola, 6) Interactions between Collembola and the abiotic environment, 7) Interactions between Collembola and the biotic environment, 8) Reproduction, development and life histories, 9) Ecology and conservation, 10) Ecotoxicology. It also contain a world list of genera, a list by region of checklists of Collembola and a list of laboratory and field studies on the effects of chemicals on Collembola.
Though these are all very competent what will really make this book an essential requirement for all libraries is the 100 page bibliography containing about 2 500 references, including all those that occurred between 1990 and the submission of the manuscript in 1996. Considering the short shrift the Collembola normally get in Entomology texts it is very pleasant to see this being published. All in all an excellent work which will be of use to Collembologists and general entomologists for years to come.
T.R. New is an internationally acclaimed entomologist, and there is no doubt of his expertise, though he normally writes for a more educated audience. He appears to have forgotten that in writing for those with little or no prior knowledge it is not enough to feed them knowledge but their interest has to be maintained as well, this is evident in the general design of the book (though I do not know how much responsibility he had for the overall design).This book would make a very good 'Introduction to Entomology ' and as such will be very useful to both primary and secondary schools. However as an identification guide aimed at those with little or no entomological experience in my opinion it is a failure, in fact given what the book actually is I would say the title 'Name That Insect ' is misleading.
It is not a bad book though, far from it in fact, but I recommend that anybody thinking of buying it have a good look at a copy before they make up there mind, the old adage 'do not judge a book by its cover ' comes to mind here. It contains a key to the orders of insects found in S. E. Australia with some general text about each order and each of the major groups within those orders, often drawing on specific examples. The text is accompanied by a series of b/w drawings, with much interesting use of silhouettes for identification, it contains no colour pictures. I think perhaps we in the UK and Europe are spoiled by the high quality of M. Chinery's Collins guides to insects, as I have yet to see a decent general field guide to the insects of Australia. Recommended for schools.