MICSCAPE BOOK REVIEWS

by Frank Rowntree

COASTAL MARINE ZOOPLANKTON - A Practical Manual for Students
by C D Todd, M S Laverack and G A Boxshall.

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 2nd. Edn. 1996.
106pp. illus. 15.95. ISBN 0-521-55533-7.


Most coastal waters provide a rich source of zoological material for microscopical study and even the briefest of trawls will usually produce enough and varied specimens to keep any naturalist occupied for many an hour of fascinating viewing and research. One of the problems for the tyro marine biologist is the identification of specimens which often because of damage done during collecting have little resemblance to the complete line illustrations of text books, many of which are composite drawings in most cases in publications inaccessible to the non professional.

This fully revised Second Edition of the manual provides a photographic guide to representative forms of the major groups from medusae and comb jellies to larval fish and squid and contains both information on taxonomy and morphology as well as black and white photographs of live specimens which are of excellent quality . These illustrations of fresh specimens are thus free of the changes in colour, form and overall transparency found in preserved material and so provide a better guide to identification.

The book has an excellent introductory section giving a guide to more detailed sources of information on taxonomy and identification for those wishing to go further with their enquiries. There is no information on the collection of marine plankton but this is easily available elswhere and thus does not detract from the excellence of the work as a practical guide for identification for use by students whether on formal courses in academe or those amateurs and natural historians seeking only interest and enjoyment.



A STUDENTS GUIDE TO THE SEASHORE
by J D Fish and S Fish

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS. Second Edition 1996. 564pp. Illus.
Paperback 19.95 (US $39.95) ISBN 0-521-46819-1 or
Hardback 55.00, (US $105.00) ISBN 0-521-46279-7


There are numerous " popular " guides to the seashore as well as detailed and highly specialised taxonomic works dealing with one group. That kind of book tends to fall between two stools and the lack of a guide such as this which describes both the biology and identification of over 600 common and widespread animals and plants of the seashore has been felt for some time.

The book is in every way a scientific text and gives no quarter or compromise in the accuracy and precision of its content yet the clarity of language and the excellence of the illustrations is such that the content is easily accessible to amateur naturalists as well as students and academics. The book opens with a succinct description of the factors which contribute to the seashore environment followed by an excellent twenty page illustrated identification Guide aimed at helping readers who are unable initially to asign an organism to its correct Pylum or Class.

This Guide gives the general characters under nine main groupings which are then broken down into subdivisions which are described and illustrated with page references to detailed information, further illustrations and easy to use keys for identification. The book provides a means of ensuring rapid and accurate identification of organisms together with sufficient information to gain an understanding of their biology and their place in the life of the seashore.

The extensive Glossary and comprehensive Bibliography are a bonus in a book that is as much a must for any Microscopist or Field Naturalist visiting the seashore as it is for those undertaking formal courses of academic study of coastal environments.

Frank Rowntree

 

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