Birdbooker Report 290

6 October 2013 by GrrlScientist, posted in Birdbooker Report

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts.


“Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin.
Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.)

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.

~ Arnold Lobel [1933-1987] author of many popular children's books.

Compiled by Ian "Birdbooker" Paulsen, the Birdbooker Report is a weekly report that has been published online for years, listing the wide variety of nature, natural history, ecology, animal behaviour, science and history books that have been newly released or republished in North America and in the UK. The books listed here were received by Ian during the previous week, courtesy of various publishing houses.

New and Recent Titles:

Baggott, Jim. Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the "God Particle". 2013. Oxford University Press. Paperback: 27 pages. Price: $15.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The hunt for the Higgs particle has involved the biggest, most expensive experiment ever. So what is this particle called the Higgs boson? Why does it matter so much? What does this "God particle" tells us about the Universe? And was finding it really worth all the effort?
The short answer is yes, and there was much at stake: our basic model for the building blocks of the Universe, the Standard Model, would have been in tatters if there was no Higgs particle. The Higgs field had been proposed as the way in which particles gain mass -- a fundamental property of matter. Little wonder the hunt and discovery have produced such intense media interest.
Here, Jim Baggott explains the science behind the discovery, looking at how the concept of a Higgs field was invented, how it is part of the Standard Model, and its implications on our understanding of all mass in the Universe.
This book features:

  • A non-technical account of the invention and discovery of the Higgs boson
  • Explores the scientific background to the Higgs particle -- how the theory was developed, its significance, and how it was discovered
  • Explains the importance of the discovery and what it means for our understanding of the Universe
  • Tackles a major discovery about the nature of the universe -- a topic of wide interest and curiosity

IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: Now available in paperback. For those with an interest in particle physics.

Fleming, Theodore H. and W. John Kress. The Ornaments of Life: Coevolution and Conservation in the Tropics. 2013. The University of Chicago Press. Paperback: 588 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The average kilometer of tropical rainforest is teeming with life; it contains thousands of species of plants and animals. As The Ornaments of Life reveals, many of the most colorful and eye-catching rainforest inhabitants—toucans, monkeys, leaf-nosed bats, and hummingbirds to name a few—are an important component of the infrastructure that supports life in the forest. These fruit-and-nectar eating birds and mammals pollinate the flowers and disperse the seeds of hundreds of tropical plants, and unlike temperate communities, much of this greenery relies exclusively on animals for reproduction.
Synthesizing recent research by ecologists and evolutionary biologists, Theodore H. Fleming and W. John Kress demonstrate the tremendous functional and evolutionary importance of these tropical pollinators and frugivores. They shed light on how these mutually symbiotic relationships evolved and lay out the current conservation status of these essential species. In order to illustrate the striking beauty of these “ornaments” of the rainforest, the authors have included a series of breathtaking color plates and full-color graphs and diagrams.
IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in tropical ecology.

Newton, Ian. Bird Populations. 2013. William Collins. Paperback: 596 pages. Price: £35.00/about $57.00 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In Ian Newton’s latest New Naturalist volume, he explores bird populations and why their numbers vary in the way they do, from year to year or from place to place. He addresses the various factors that we know limit bird numbers -- food supplies and other resources, competitors, predators, parasites and pathogens, and various human impacts.
The combination of a rapidly expanding human population, a predominantly utilitarian attitude to land, central government policy on land use, and increasing mechanisation have combined to promote more massive changes in land use -- and hence in bird habitats -- in recent decades than at any comparable period previously. These developments have in turn brought huge changes in bird populations, as some species dependent on the old landscapes declined, and others benefiting from the changes increased. Over the same period, changing public attitudes to wildlife, protective legislation and a growing network of nature reserves allowed previously scarce bird species to recover from past onslaughts, while climate warming has promoted further changes.
In this seminal new work, Ian Newton sets out to explain why different bird species are distributed in the numbers that they are, and have changed over the years in the way that they have. He emphasises the factors that influence bird numbers, rather than the numbers themselves, thus providing a much-needed overview which is necessary if we are to successfully manage bird populations, whether for conservation reasons, for sustainable hunting or for crop protection. The continued monitoring of bird numbers can also alert us to impending environmental problems. In addition, the regular watching and study of birds now provides a source of recreation and pleasure for very large numbers of people, who would find a world with fewer birds a poorer place.
IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the subject or for those that collect the New Naturalist series.

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Ian "Birdbooker" Paulsen is an avid book collector who is especially well-known to the publishing world. Mr Paulsen collects newly-published books about nature, animals and birds, science, and history, and he also collects children's books on these topics. Mr Paulsen writes brief synopses about these books on his website, The Birdbooker Report.

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