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The Encyclopedia of Land Invertebrate Behaviour

Preston-Mafham, Rod, and Preston-Mafham, Ken

ISBN 10: 0262161370 / ISBN 13: 9780262161374
Published by MIT Press, 1993
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About this Item

Green cloth-like paper over boards. Gold spine titles. 320 p. 9x11in. Extraordinary photography of insects. Sections: Sexual behavior; Egg-laying behavior; Parental care; Feeding behavior; Defensive behavior. Extensive Bibliography. Indeces: Scientific Names, Common Names, General. Very good in very good dust jacket. MInor DJ flaws: Top front edge slight curl; rear lower corner short closed tear, slight spine sun-fade. Book: lower edge wear slight. Bookseller Inventory # Alibris.06380000200

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Encyclopedia of Land Invertebrate ...

Publisher: MIT Press

Publication Date: 1993

Binding: Hard cover

Edition: First edition..

About this title


Witness the dazzling mid-air copulations of slugs, the transvestism of dung beetles, the "lovedarts" of snails, the pre- and post-nuptial snack-smearing strategies of millipedes and centipedes, the dance of the scorpions, and spiders that tie their mates down with "bridal veils" of silk. Splendidly illustrated from nature, this encyclopedia describes with rigour and grace some of the most complex and bizarre behaviours in the animal world.

Rod and Ken Preston-Mafham document and describe the whole fascinating gamut of behaviour of land-living invertebrates such as worms, snails and slugs, insects, spiders and many other small animals. They reveal routines of courting, mating, egg-laying, raising families, defending and attacking, hunting, and eating that exhibit trickery, violence, deception, and odd sexual practices that are generally rare throughout the animal kingdom.

The 200 color photographs from the authors' own archives, all taken in the wild, and 40 line drawings illustrate as many forms of behaviour as possible. An extensive bibliography captures a wealth of research on the workings of the natural world.

The Preston-Mafhams have spent years traveling the world in search of strange animals and behaviours and have produced a number of previous books on subjects ranging from grasshoppers to cacti. Rod Preston-Mafham is a professional biologist who took up writing full time after twenty years as a biology teacher. Ken Preston-Mafham is a top wildlife photographer. Together with Rod's wife Jean, the Preston-Mafhams run Premaphotos Wildlife, a photo library containing a wide range of mainly natural history subjects, which are used in publications throughout the world.


You may think a book with a title like The Encyclopedia of Land Invertebrate Behaviour would be soporifically dry, but nothing is further from the truth. Open up to any page and the color photography, sterling prose, and astounding variety of nature's idiosyncrasies will snare you. Take the hangingflies (Bittacidae), for example. Their courtship is fascinating. A male presents a female with an insect as a nuptial gift--the larger the gift, the longer time the female will schedule for copulation. Pictured is a hangingfly, presumably with big lovemaking plans in mind, presenting a large, plump insect to his hangingfly mate. The encyclopedia covers sexual, egg-laying, parental, feeding, and defensive behaviors for spiders, scorpions, and slugs (the photo of Roman snails in midcourtship dance is truly remarkable), ticks, centipedes, woodlice, and a variety of insects; it succeeds as a stunning work of scholarship (suitable for the shelves of biologists and students) and an addictive introduction for the invertebrate ignoramus. --Stephanie Gold

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