Volume 34, Issue 2 p. 531-532
Book Review
Free Access

Noted with Interest

First published: 10 January 2020

Britain's Day-Flying Moths: A Field Guide to the Day-Flying Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. 2nd edition. Newland, D., R. Still, and A. Swash. 2019. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, U.S.A. 232 pp. US$23.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-691-19728-9.

Approximately 2500 moth species occur in Britain and Ireland, many of which are mainly diurnal. This book aims to help with the identification of 133 species of macromoths and 23 species of micromoths. General information about moth biology and habitat, how to distinguish between moths and butterflies, a glossary, and a table with small pictures indicating the key distinctive features of each family are provided. Sixty inchworms (Geometridae), 22 noctuids, 16 species each of Sesidae and Erebidae, 10 species of Zygaenidae, 1 or 2 species in other families, and a few of the numerous micromoths are described. Two recently introduced moths are included: the box moth (Cydalima perspectalis) and the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionaria). The authors selected a good sample of macromoths; however, people interested in micromoths will do better to look elsewhere because only some of the most common families are presented. For each family, information about the number of species in the world and in the United Kingdom precedes details on selected individual species. To make identification of the moths easier, the authors prioritize by appearance rather than taxonomic affinity; similar species are presented sequentially even when they do not belong to the same genus. The species’ descriptions are clear and provide information about geographical distribution in the United Kingdom, habitat, flight period, wing span, larval food plant, and appearance. Habitat, flight seasons, main larval food plants, and conservation status for each of the species are also included in the book, indexed by scientific and common names. The book ends with important information about nature conservation and legislation and refers the reader to additional, helpful sources about moth identification and conservation. Amateur lepidopterologists in the United Kingdom will find this book of interest.

A Primer of Molecular Population Genetics. Cutter, A. D. 2019. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K. xvii + 247 pp. £37.99 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-19-883895-1.

This remarkable book is an introductory text for upper-level undergraduates and junior graduate students, but can also be of an interest to scientists working in conservation or evolutionary science. The author does not go deep into specific arguments and does not deal with advanced topics in molecular population genetics. It also does not go deep into the use of software, which quickly becomes obsolete. Only limited details on the classical population genetics are covered, and readers need background knowledge of evolutionary and molecular biology. Chapters are ordered in the usual way, starting with the tangible and building toward abstract concepts. Some integrative case studies are presented. All 9 chapters are homogeneous in terms of level of difficulty and fluidity of the language. A chapter on quantitative genetics would have been a nice add-on. The book's main aims are to answer extremely relevant questions related to how much evolution is driven by selection and to examine the genomic inner workings of adaptations and how the consequences of demographic changes are marked on chromosomes. Well-discussed and robust methods for answering these questions are presented. This is a timely and interesting book that will not quickly become outdated and that will attract many scientists to the fascinating field of molecular genetics as it applies to questions of ecological relevance.

After the Wildfire: Ten Years of Recovery from the Willow Fire. Alcock, J. 2017. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ, U.S.A. 230 pp. US$16.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-8165-3403-4

Ecological disturbance and subsequent recovery are key players in the creation of habitat patches and the maintenance of habitat diversity, and fire is a major cause of ecological disturbance. After the Wildfire will be welcomed by U.S. southwestern naturalists and hiking enthusiasts, restoration ecologists, and those interested in related subdisciplines. Alcock takes the reader, in an expressive and ardent manner, through years of direct, thorough observations regarding the recovery of a fire-scorched riparian trail along Deer Creek (one of several in the state) in Arizona. Observations of streamside flora and fauna abound, and the most fascinating recurring theme is the riparian plant community's path to recovery. This of course is the basis for recovery of other ecological interactions along Deer Creek, and Alcock provides many of these types of observations. Descriptions of riparian community recovery are detailed and numerous photos show what Alcock is describing. Landscape-scale photos showing recovery over time would have been welcome. Alcock documents changes in Deer Creek's riparian plant community and the creek itself from early 2005 to 2015. Readers will appreciate the detailed time-of-year descriptions. Alcock also describes the different animal (often insect) species colonizing Deer Creek's riparian area over time and the interactions between plants and animals and between animals. The writer has worked many years as a behavioral ecologist, and his experience shows in analyses and ponderings regarding the ecological relationships he witnessed along the recovering creek. He even proposes research topics, such as the ephemeral aboveground activities of Dinothrombium velvet mites and the evolutionary history of mating behavior of Xylocopa carpenter bees. It is easy to overlook disturbed habitats until they meet our restoration standards. After the Wildfire adds to one's appreciation of the dynamics of fire-disturbed ecosystems, shows that life can flourish in these disturbed areas, and provides the only existing account of postfire changes along Deer Creek. The book is easy to read because Alcock draws one into his world and his thinking, and it should stimulate more observations and books on this topic. Fire will continue to scorch landscapes, and it will become increasingly important to document the quality of postfire changes to ecosystems.

The Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats. 2nd edition. Culver, D. C., and T. Pipan. 2019. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K. xx + 301 pp. £27.99 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-19-882077-2

The subterranean realm is distinct and particularly understudied compared with other terrestrial areas. David Culver and Tanja Pipan are leading researchers in biospeleology and show in this book that the subterranean realm is in many cases a new frontier that could inspire testing of innovative theories in community assembly and species evolution. In this second edition, the authors successfully update the first, replacing some of the case studies with appealing recent studies. About 125 references were added, with particular focus on phylogeography, biodiversity, and evolutionary developmental biology. The first of 2 sections has 3 chapters devoted to the description of the different subterranean environments, their sources of energy, and the main biota. Primary research topics are explored in 5 chapters, namely, ecosystem functioning, biotic interactions and community assembly, evolution and adaptation to cave environments, evolutionary biogeography of colonization and speciation, and macroecology of cave environments. The last 2 chapters describe selected subterranean communities and the challenges of conserving cave biota. This last chapter calls attention to the fact that conservation topics are paramount in a moment when drivers of biodiversity loss, such as land-use changes, climatic change, invasive species, and pollution are posing a great danger to subterranean environments. Elegantly, the authors show that despite caves being simplified systems and functionally less diverse, they are complex enough and eminently suitable microcosms to study ecology and evolution. This book will be a powerful inspiration for a new generation of students and researchers interested in mechanisms generating biodiversity on Earth and is accessible to nonacademic readers through its extensive glossary. This work deserves consideration by all stakeholders responsible for the conservation of biodiversity.

Woodland Development—A Long-Term Study of Lady Park Wood. Peterken, G., and E. Mountford. 2017. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, U.K. xv + 286 pp. £35.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-1-78639-287-7

We live in an accelerated world: fast trains, fast food, fast internet, fast charging for smartphones, and others. Even science is getting faster. To have the chance to get a research project financed, one must promise fast outcomes and groundbreaking results within a couple of years. But just as the high-speed life does not allow us to see, feel, or taste some fine details of life, overly fast science is occasionally unable to reveal fundamentally important facts. Some fields of science just cannot work at high speeds. Forest ecology, particularly studying forest dynamics, certainly belongs to this category. The life span of an oak or beech tree is twice as long as a human's. To understand dynamics of woodlands, particularly natural woodlands, long-term monitoring is vital and irreplaceable. But such really long time series are rare. The main character of this story, Lady Park Wood (51°49ʹ23.4″N 2°41ʹ17.0″W), is a 45-ha ancient woodland in the lower Wye Valley on the border between England and Wales. This mixed forest (beech, sessile oak, ash, lime, elm, birch, yew, etc.) has been allowed to grow and develop naturally without direct human influence since 1944. This reserve provides an unparalleled long time series for studying differences of development of managed stands and natural woodlands. On top of its diverse vegetation, Lady Park Wood harbors valuable and species-rich bird communities and rare and endangered bat fauna. This book documents changes in tree composition and floral and faunal components and characters. It is well illustrated with images, graphs, and drawings and shows what can happen over 7 decades if natural processes are left to work freely. Changes in the forest were triggered by competition, herbivory, pathogens, storms, and other natural disturbances. The book demonstrates clearly and helps understanding of why, how, and to what extent a natural woodland differs from a managed forest. The essential message is clear for woodland conservation: “The single trees may die, but the forest lives forever,” if we allow it to do so. The book also has helpful content, from a forestry practice perspective, on how to enhance species richness and structural diversity in forest stands and how to approach continuous-cover forestry in practice. These things are essential tools for decreasing biotic and abiotic risks related to climate change. This is why this is an important and useful work for foresters, ecologists, and conservationists.