Amphibians and Reptiles

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9780002200844: Amphibians and Reptiles

Building on the solid foundations established by the two earlier New Naturalist volumes on this subject, eminent herpetologists Trevor Beebee and Richard Griffiths have brought together a wealth of new and fascinating information on the British amphibians and reptiles. An introductory chapter looks at the subject of biogeography and how factors such as geological history, latitude and climate affect ecology, life histories and behaviour. The authors then go on to discuss historical interest in amphibians and reptiles, from how they have featured in witchcraft and legends to modern perspectives. A third chapter covers basic biology of amphibians and reptiles, before each of the main groups -- newts, frogs and toads, lizards, snakes and chelonians -- are examined in further detail. A comprehensive account for each species covers behaviour, life history, reproduction and distribution, as well as ecology and conservation status, areas in which significant discoveries have been made in recent years. There is also a chapter with important new information on the burgeoning number of introduced species in Britain, such as bullfrogs, alpine newts and wall lizards. During the last half century, amphibians and reptiles have been among the most serious casualties of the changing way of life in the British countryside. In recognition of the threats they continue to face, Beebee and Griffiths rightly dedicate a final, substantial chapter to the increasingly important issue of conservation and discuss the measures needed to be taken to ensure the future survival of the British herpetofauna. With over 100 black and white line drawings and illustrations, and an 8-page colour section, this is an authoritative work on a subject of great natural history interest.

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About the Author:

Trevor Beebee and Richard Griffiths are based at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex and the University of Canterbury respectively. They have considerable experience of the British herpetofauna.

Review:

This is a comprehensive guide to both native and non-native species of amphibians and reptiles found in the British Isles. It is number 31 in the well-respected Naturalists’ Handbook series which includes titles such as Common Ground Beetles and Insects on Dock Plants. In the introduction, Trevor Beebee points out that amphibians did not always have the degree of interest they have now with naturalist Carl Linnaeus declaring a “profound dislike of them” and Gilbert White gave “scant attention” to them!

After the introduction is a chapter on basic biology including skin, feeding, respiration, and reproduction. This is followed by a detailed account of the ecology of amphibians and reptiles and a section about conservation. The next two chapters are probably the most useful to people especially if they are interested in studying in more detail or surveying species such as the protected great crested newt or the more elusive wall lizard, with sections on both daylight and night-time searches (using powerful torches) and live trapping.

For adventurous teachers keen to encourage real science chapter 7 shows how schools can help to further the knowledge of these creatures. It includes three types of investigations: the ?rst involves studying whether pupils have amphibians or reptiles living in around their own gardens, secondly investigating the school grounds or local nature reserves and ?nally a section about lab based studies. These investigations give the pupils the “chance to see wild animals and experience the excitement of completely new discoveries based on the simplest of scienti?c methods”.

Like most of the Naturalists’ Handbooks there is a species identi?cation section covering the seven amphibian and six terrestrial reptiles native to Britain. This section has seven identi?cation keys including adult and immature newts, newt eggs and larvae and adult and hatching limbed lizards. This is a very useful part of the book including extensive keys to aid identi?cation and a selection of pictures that are very clear and include larva and spawn of some species. There are also 20 maps showing distributions. Like lots of groups of species, there is a problem with introduced and escapee specimens which has become more prevalent and this guide includes identi?cation of these species including the midwife toad and Italian great crested newt. The ?nal chapter considers some general aspects of working with amphibians and reptiles including the legal niceties and handling.

At the end of the book is a section on useful addresses and links (including where you can buy food for captive amphibians and reptiles!), two pages of references cited in the text and a four page index. Throughout the text is a glossary found in the margin of the book alongside where the word occurs. Colour photographs, graphs, maps, tables and diagrams are all very clear.

Trevor Beebee was professor of molecular ecology at the University of Sussex combining an interest in research and conservation. He has published over 150 scienti?c papers, more than 30 articles and several books on amphibians and reptiles. Beebee was awarded the Peter Scott Memorial Award by the British Naturalists’ Association in 2009 for contributions to amphibian conservation.

This Naturalists’ Handbook is very easy to read, encouraging those people interested in this aspect of natural history to be able to identify species and make a contribution to citizen science should they want to.

(Helen Ashton BBC Countryfile Magazine)

It's always nice when a book is published that enthuses you because it is so inspiring. [...] A number of things struck me as positive. First is that the author convincingly shows how research on captive animals contributes to our knowledge. [...] Second, a lot of attention is paid to the role of schools in the protection of amphibians and reptiles [...] Third, and most inspiring to me, is that the author gives many ideas for future research. [Translation from Dutch review] (Serge Bogaerts RAVON)

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Book Description HarperCollins / HarperCollinsPublishers, London, 2000. Softcover. Book Condition: Very Good Plus. First Paperback Edition. 2000 . First paperback edition. 270pp., 8 colour plates and over 80 black and white photographs and line drawings. This is a sought after volume in Collins' famous 'New Naturalist Library' series, renowned for its investigative approach to natural history. Building on the solid foundations established by the two earlier New Naturalist volumes on this subject, the authors have brought together a wealth of new information on the British amphibians and reptiles. An introductory chapter looks at the subject of biogeography and how factors such as geological history, latitude and climate affect ecology, life histories and behaviour. The authors then go on to discuss historical interest in amphibians and reptiles, from how they have featured in witchcraft and legends to modern perspectives. A third chapter covers basic biology of amphibians and reptiles, before each of the main groups are examined in further detail. A comprehensive account for each species covers behaviour, life history, reproduction and distribution, as well as ecology and conservation status, areas in which significant discoveries have been made in recent years. There is also a chapter with important new information on the burgeoning number of introduced species in Britain. During the last half century, amphibians and reptiles have been among the most serious casualties of the changing way of life in the British countryside. In recognition of the threats they continue to face, the auhtors dedicate a final, substantial chapter to the increasingly important issue of conservation and discuss the measures needed to be taken to ensure the future survival of the British herpetofauna. The book is in excellent condition with very slight rubbing to the bottom corners of the covers. The contents are tight and clean with no inscription. Size: 8.5'' Tall. Bookseller Inventory # Nature108

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