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The Book of Fungi: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the Worldby Peter Roberts
Synopses & Reviews
From the brilliantly green and glossy eggs of the Elegant Crested Tinamouand#151;said to be among the most beautiful in the worldand#151;to the small brown eggs of the house sparrow that makes its nest in a lamppost and the uniformly brown or white chickensand#8217; eggs found by the dozen in any corner grocery, birdsand#8217; eggs have inspired countless biologists, ecologists, and ornithologists, as well as artists, from John James Audubon to the contemporary photographer Rosamond Purcell. For scientists, these vibrant vessels are the source of an array of interesting topics, from the factors responsible for egg coloration to the curious practice of and#147;brood parasitism,and#8221; in which the eggs of cuckoos mimic those of other bird species in order to be cunningly concealed among the clutches of unsuspecting foster parents.
The Book of Eggs introduces readers to eggs from six hundred speciesand#151;some endangered or extinctand#151;from around the world and housed mostly at Chicagoand#8217;s Field Museum of Natural History. Organized by habitat and taxonomy, the entries include newly commissioned photographs that reproduce each egg in full color and at actual size, as well as distribution maps and drawings and descriptions of the birds and their nests where the eggs are kept warm. Birdsand#8217; eggs are some of the most colorful and variable natural products in the wild, and each entry is also accompanied by a brief description that includes evolutionary explanations for the wide variety of colors and patterns, from camouflage designed to protect against predation, to thermoregulatory adaptations, to adjustments for the circumstances of a particular habitat or season. Throughout the book are fascinating facts to pique the curiosity of binocular-toting birdwatchers and budding amateurs alike. Female mallards, for instance, invest more energy to produce larger eggs when faced with the genetic windfall of an attractive mate. Some seabirds, like the cliff-dwelling guillemot, have adapted to produce long, pointed eggs, whose uneven weight distribution prevents them from rolling off rocky ledges into the sea.
A visually stunning and scientifically engaging guide to six hundred of the most intriguing eggs, from the pea-sized progeny of the smallest of hummingbirds to the eggs of the largest living bird, the ostrich, which can weigh up to five pounds, The Book of Eggs offers readers a rare, up-close look at these remarkable forms of animal life.
andldquo;We must be careful what we say. No bird resumes its egg.andrdquo; andmdash;Emily Dickinson
And what a shame, as while birds are stunning in their plumage, the variety and beauty of the vessels from which they hatch are beguiling. The egg has been called natureandrsquo;s perfect container. And the variation on a theme is spectacularandmdash;from the bold purple red hue of a Tinamou egg to the roughly surfaced greenish-blue Emu egg. Incubation varies as much as colorandmdash;from days to monthsandmdash;as does the clutch size. All of these different egg types reflect ecological and evolutionary dynamics.
The Book of Eggs introduces readers to the eggs of 600 bird species. Bird eggs have inspired artists like Rosamond Purcell, and countless birders have considered them quarry. For scientists, these brilliant vessels lead to an array of interesting topics, from the patterns of egg coloration to how birds and their parasites recognize eggs. Particularly appealing is this bookandrsquo;s use of The Field Museumandrsquo;s bird egg and nest collection.
After an introductory section, the work is organized taxonomically. Each entry, which focuses largely on North American birds, includes life-size photos, distribution maps, and drawings of the birds from which the eggs emerge. The text discusses bird behavior and the egg traits, inclusive of some evolutionary explanations for the variance of form. This is the first time the Fieldandrsquo;s egg collection has been photographed, and it is world renowned for its content. The book will also include portrayals and descriptions of the clutches, which can be a helpful tool in identifying species for birders.
Colorful, mysterious, and often fantastically shaped, fungi have been a source of wonder and fascination since the earliest hunter-gatherers first foraged for them. Today there are few, if any, places on Earth where fungi have not found themselves a home. And these highly specialized organisms are an indispensable part of the great chain of life. They not only partner in symbiotic relationships with over ninety percent of the worldand#8217;s trees and flowering plant species, they also recycle and create humus, the fertile soil from which such flora receive their nutrition. Some fungi are parasites or saprotrophs; many are poisonous and, yes, hallucinogenic; others possess life-enhancing properties that can be tapped for pharmaceutical products; while a delicious few are prized by epicureans and gourmands worldwide.
In this lavishly illustrated volume, six hundred fungi from around the globe get their full due. Each species here is reproduced at its actual size, in full color, and is accompanied by a scientific explanation of its distribution, habitat, association, abundance, growth form, spore color, and edibility. Location maps give at-a-glance indications of each speciesand#8217; known global distribution, and specially commissioned engravings show different fruitbody forms and provide the vital statistics of height and diameter. With information on the characteristics, distinguishing features, and occasionally bizarre habits of these fungi, readers will find in this book the common and the conspicuous, the unfamiliar and the odd. There is a fungal predator, for instance, that hunts its prey with lassos, and several that set traps, including one that entices sows by releasing the pheromones of a wild boar.
Mushrooms, morels, puffballs, toadstools, truffles, chanterellesand#8212;fungi from habitats spanning the poles and the tropics, from the highest mountains to our own backyardsand#8212;are all on display in this definitive work.
About the Author
Peter Roberts was for fourteen years a senior mycologist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He has undertaken field trips throughout the British Isles and Europe, as well as North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa, and has published extensively on temperate and tropical fungi. He is the coauthor of New Naturalist: Fungi and is on the editorial boards of the journals Field Mycology, Mycological Progress, Czech Mycology, and Persoonia. Shelley Evans was conservation officer for the British Mycological Society for ten years and is on the executive committee of the European Council for the Conservation of Fungi and the IUCN world specialist group for fungi. She is coauthor of Pocket Nature: Fungi and is on the editorial board of the journal Field Mycology. She is an experienced field mycologist, having undertaken field trips throughout the British Isles and Europe, as well as North America.
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