EC – Biological Sciences

Naturführer durch Schleswig-Holstein: einzigartig [Schleswig-Holstein Nature Guide: Inimitable]. Ed. Jochen Brumloop for the Landesamt für Natur und Umwelt des Landes Schleswig-Holstein. Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2008. 247 p. ill. 20 cm. ISBN 978-3-529-05415-0: EUR 9.90 [07-2-643]

This “first” volume (according to the jacket text) introduces 34 of the nearly 200 nature reserves in Schleswig Holstein, all but two of which are part of the “Natura 2000” reserve system. A variety of other German states are covered in a series published by Thorbecke, e.g., for Baden-Württemberg the areas around Freiburg (see IFB 04-2-592), Karlsruhe (see IFB 04-2-593), Stuttgart (see IFB 07-1-256), and Tübingen (see IFB 07-1-257).

Short sections in the introduction to the volume describe the history of Schleswig-Holstein’s nature reserve system, which seeks to balance environmental protection with recreational use. A map of the province–the north inside the front cover and the south inside the back cover–shows the locations of the various reserves. The articles dedicated to each reserve begin with a general explanation of its history and development, followed by descriptions of the local plants and animals and their habitats. A colored map shows the specific biotopes as well as hiking trails, parking lots, scenic viewpoints, and other visitor information. Further sections explore 36 special regional topics such as “old and dead wood” and the “migratory path of the barnacle goose.” The descriptions are enhanced by a selection of beautiful nature photographs. A short glossary explains terms that may be unfamiliar even to nature buffs. There is no bibliography or “further reading” list, but the address of the Schleswig Holstein state agency for nature and environment is provided. Here the reader can send for more information on the various parks. One hopes that similarly useful and nicely produced guides to the other nature reserves of this region follow, so that all nature reserves of Schleswig-Holstein are documented. [jr/hh]

Handbuch Schweizer Alpen: Pflanzen, Tiere, Gesteine und Wetter: der Naturführer [Handbook of the Swiss Alps: Plants, Animals, Rocks and Weather: The Nature Guide]. Heinz Staffelbach. Bern; Stuttgart [et al.]: Haupt, 2008. 656 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 978-3-258-06895-4: SFr. 66, EUR 39.90 [07-2-644]

Though the author promises (in the jacket text) a “complete reference for the traveler, covering all the important natural elements of the Swiss Alps in one volume,” only 180 animals are described, plus 800 plants and 35 rocks. This leaves out, for example, all of the invertebrates and does not seem at all complete. Of course, it is difficult to select which plants and animals to include, but it would have been helpful to tell the reader by which criteria the selections were made.

An introduction covers the morphological features of the included species in drawings and includes a glossary of scientific terms used in the text. There are three excellent introductory sections for the animals, plants and rocks, which are well informed and well written and enhanced by tables and illustrations. Each page of the following picture sections is divided to feature two species or rocks, each with brief descriptions and maps showing their distribution in the region. The descriptive pages include colored boxes listing special characteristics under A, B, and C, but we never learn what A, B, or C indicates. Interesting is the humorous description of the “last” mammal to inhabit this area, homo sapiens, whose unchecked proliferation has brought numerous problems for the region.

The final chapter, on weather, includes easy-to-understand explanations of weather phenomena and cloud formations, which will be useful to the mountain hiker. The appendix contains a very extensive bibliography keyed to the chapters, an index of German and scientific names, and an index of species, the latter of which is printed so small it is only readable with a magnifying glass. Why change the otherwise so legible font here?

The strength of this handbook is clearly the introductions to the chapters. Not everyone would agree with the plant and animal selection. The illustrations are very good and informative for the novice, but it will take a proper plant identification guide correctly to identify the plants encountered in the field. This handbook is good in parts; a more careful selection of plants and animals would have been desirable. [jr/hh]

Flora alpina: ein Atlas sämtlicher 4500 Gefäßpflanzen der Alpen [Alpine Flora: An Atlas of All 4,500 Vascular Plants of the Alps]. David Aeschimann, with color photographs by Konrad Lauber and sketches by André Michel. 3 vols. Bern, Stuttgart [et al.]: Haupt. 1,159; 1,188; 323 p. ill. maps. 25 cm. ISBN 3-258-06600-0 (set): SFr. 286, EUR 190. English introduction: 2005. 47 p. ill. maps. ISBN 3-258-06945-X: EUR 10 [07-1-258]

Though the Alps are one of the best-researched regions botanically, there has never been a comprehensive inventory of the vascular plants of the area, which includes parts of Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Slovenia. This gap is now closed by the three-volume Flora Alpina, compiled over ten-year period. The introduction describes the project, which took into account history, biology, phenology, chorology, ecology, and sociology. A number of different maps supplement the texts. The introduction makes clear that we are not dealing with a field guide-type of publication, but rather a completely up-to-date reference work with brief entries that can be used by anyone in the region regardless of language. The main section contains the descriptions of the 4,491 plants, arranged four to a two-page spread. A range map and a number of symbols whose meaning is explained in the introduction accompany the Latin, German, French, and Italian names. The plants in this book are in a scientific order, which makes the index invaluable to the amateur. The substantial index volume contains a table of genus and species; a list of endemic taxa; indexes of the Latin, German, French, Italian, Slovenian, and English names; a guide to the plantsociological system, including its own index; the bibliography; and the photo sources.

Flora Alpina is an outstanding reference work that will be relevant for a long time. It belongs in every academic library. [jr/hh]

Bildatlas der Farn- und Blütenpflanzen Deutschlands [Illustrated Atlas of the Ferns and Flowering Plants of Germany]. Ed. Henning Haeupler and Thomas Muer for the Bundesamt für Naturschutz. Drawings by Thomas Frebel. 2d, rev. and enlarged ed. Stuttgart: Ulmer, 2007. 789 p. chiefly ill. 28 cm. (Die Farn- und Blütenpflanzen Deutschlands, 2). ISBN 978-3-8001-4990-2: EUR 49.90 [07-1-259]

This atlas is the counterpart to Flora Helvetica (see RREA 13:254). Now in its 2d edition, it has been corrected and improved considerably. Two theoretical chapters explain the structure of the work, nomenclature and botanical systems, and the descriptive information to be found under each plant. The keys and symbols are explained on the inside of the book’s cover, not on a handy bookmark, so that a constant inconvenient back-and-forth action is necessary when using the book. The descriptive section presents 2,400 plants, six to a page. Newly added plant families are not integrated, but in a chapter by themselves at the end.

Each plant is represented by a typical photo and sometimes detail drawings, plus a short description of its main characteristics and other information in coded (symbol) form. What does not fit on the plant’s page can be found in a separate chapter titled “Remarks.” Excellent full-page photographic plates are dedicated to comparisons between similar attributes of different plants, such as the catkins of poplar and willow. A brief glossary of lesser-known botanical terms, as well as several indexes (German names, scientific plant names, genus, and species), and a list of photo credits and of text authors complete the volume. The bibliography is a bit lacking and needs attention. One can only hope that the interactive CD-ROM version mentioned in the introduction will indeed be forthcoming.

Like the Flora Helvetica, this reference work belongs in every academic library and should see use for many years to come. [jr/hh]

Flora Helvetica = Flora der Schweiz = Flore de la Suisse = Flora della Svizzera = Flora da la Svizra [Flora of Switzerland]. Konrad Lauber and Gerhart Wagner. Bern; Stuttgart [et al.]: Haupt. 20 cm. ISBN 978-3-258-07205-0: SFr. 148, EUR 96 [07-1-260]

[Main vol.] 3773 Farbfotos von 3000 wildwachsenden Blüten- und Farnpflanzen einschließlich wichtiger Kulturpflanzen, Artbeschreibungen und Bestimmungsschlüssel [3,773 Color Photographs of 3,000 Wild Flowering Plants and Ferns Including Significant Useful Plants, Descriptions of Varieties and Identification Key. 4th, completely rev. ed. 2007. 1631 p. chiefly ill. maps.

[Supplement] Bestimmungsschlüssel zur Flora Helvetica [Identification Key to Flora Helvetica]. With drawings by André Michel. 4th, completely rev. ed. 2007. 275 p. ill.

Flora Helvetica: ein interaktiver Führer durch die Pflanzenwelt der Schweiz = Flore de Suisse [An Interactive Guide to the Plant Life of Switzerland]. Konrad Lauber and Gerhart Wagner. Version 2.1. Bern: Haupt, 2005. 1 CD-ROM + 1 Suppl. (Haupt digital). ISBN 978-3-258-06952-4: SFr.148, EUR 96 [07-1-261]

This popular work has been updated and improved several times in the past 11 years; this 4th edition contains updated maps, new illustrations, and additional taxa. Newly added are the Romansch plant names, so that now even the smallest Swiss language group is represented. The introductory section of the main volume presents the geographical, geological, and geo-botanical structures of Switzerland, as well as the criteria for selection of the plants represented herein.

A glossary of important scientific terms and a Latin-German glossary of genus names round out the introduction. The main section of this volume introduces 3,000 plants (this includes native as well as introduced plants), arranged four to a two-page spread. The pictures are on the right and the descriptions on the left. Genus and species names in Latin and German (and other names, if applicable, in the other Swiss languages) are joined by identifying attributes. Symbols explained in the introduction and on a handy laminated bookmark are a space-saving aid to identification. There is unfortunately no bibliography. Both the main volume and the identification key volume contain indexes of the German, Latin, French, Italian, and Romansch plant and genus names. The identification volume fits well into your luggage, but not the 1,631-page main volume, which contains the pictures necessary for plant identification in the field. (The recommendation is to take several photos of the plant and look it up at home!) This comprehensive work is of interest to both the botanist and the amateur and belongs in every academic library.

The CD-ROM is quick and easy to install. The user is greeted by a well-organized start menu (which can be switched to French), offering the choices: “select, identify, index, reading texts, album, help, and information about the CD-ROM.” Unfortunately, the CD-ROM is Version 2.0 from 2001, so it is not as current as the book itself. (For 96 Euro, one should be able to expect a current update.) It also inexplicably lacks the Latin-German glossary of genus names. The most useful functions are “select” (which enables the user to search by genus, species, geographical distribution, and a host of other criteria) and “identify,” in which the user enters any combination of characteristics, such as blossom, fruit, leaf, stem, plant type, distribution, and others, to arrive at a positive identification. The polyglot index (German, Latin, French, Italian) is another quick way to arrive at the plant’s description. Once there, the plant is beautifully presented on the screen with the picture in the center, descriptions right and left and the distribution map below. The CD-ROM is quite useful for quick searches, as well as for browsing and even identification, but the fact that the information therein is not as up-to-date as the book is very annoying. The publisher needs to remedy this right away. [jr/hh]

Flora vegetativa: ein Bestimmungsbuch für Pflanzen der Schweiz im blütenlosen Zustand [...: Field Guide to Plants of Switzerland in Their Non-Flowering State]. Stefan Eggenberg and Adrian Möhl. Wit drawings by Stefan Eggenberg. Bern; Stuttgart [et al.]: Haupt, 2007. 680 p. ill. maps. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-258-07179-4: SFr. 58, EUR 38.50 [07-1-262]

Though identifying plants by their flowers is fun and usually easy, correctly identifying non-flowering plants can sometimes be a lifesaver. (Cases of mistaken identity exemplify the importance.) This book of Swiss plants in their non-flowering state uses line drawings to depict the characteristics of over 3,000 plants more accurately than photographs would. In many cases, the fragrance and other unique characteristics of a plant are mentioned as well. Plants are divided into mono- and dicotyledonous, and under each are listed alphabetically by family. (The identification tables are unfortunately not uniform in their construction.) Four outline maps of Switzerland inside the front cover show the various altitudinal vegetation belts, important geological formations, and bio-geographical regions. Inside the back cover are the key to abbreviations and a quick guide to families and genera.

The index of German and Latin plant names shows weaknesses, such as inconsistency in the use of common plant names, which make the book difficult for the amateur to use. This identification guide to plants represents a welcome complement to Flora Helvetica (see RREA 13:254) for the botanist, and belongs in every academic library. However, it will not serve the amateur plant collector well. [jr/hh]

Handbuch der Fledermäuse Europas und Nordwestafrikas: Biologie, Kennzeichen, Gefährdung [Handbook of Bats of Europe and Northwest Africa: Biology, Characteristics, Endangered Status]. Christian Dietz, Otto von Helversen, and Dietmar Nill. Stuttgart: Kosmos, 2007. 399 p. ill. maps. 28 cm. (Kosmos-Naturführer). ISBN 978-3-440-09693-2: EUR 49.90 [07-1-263]

This guide is divided into two major parts. The first is a thorough overview of the biology of bats, presented in 18 chapters and including the very latest information. A combination of excellent photographs, clear drawings, and colored explanatory text boxes supplements the scientific yet accessible texts. Numerous footnotes refer to the bibliography at the end. The second part is the bat identification guide, again supplemented with fine photographs and drawings. Entries for the 51 bat species contain the Latin and German names and, where available, vernacular names in several other languages; and a description of the appearance, sound, distribution, migration, behavior, reproduction, food, endangered status, and more. Each description has a “further reading” section at the end. A brief glossary, a list of addresses for bat protection organizations in Germany and 25 other European countries, a 160-entry bibliography, including Web sites and children’s literature, and a thorough, carefully compiled index complete the handbook. This volume is a delight for the specialist as well as the amateur and can be highly recommended for libraries of all types, including those affiliated with planning commissions. [jr/hh]

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Last update: October 2010 [LC]
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