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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Book Review - Britain's Habitats - Princeton University Press (WILDGuides)

 


      I have just reviewed two other guides in the WILDGuide series, one on butterflies and a second one on spiders, and for those organisms, as for all others, habitat is key. Put simply, they have to have a place  that provides food, shelter, cover and the conditions to breed successfully.
     The coverage of Britain's varied and diverse habitats in the current volume is nothing short of spectacular. This second edition, produced in collaboration with rewilding britain, states that it is fully revised and updated - a modest assertion if ever I saw one. 
     The introduction furnishes a succinct summary of Britain's natural habitats, with commentary on climate, topography and geography, and an examination of the numerous factors affecting habitat, including human impact and natural forces at work. There is an important section on the conservation of habitats, arguably one of the most pressing issues of our time. 
     I think that what sets this work apart from other studies of habitat, is the detailed breakdown of conditions which at first glance seem uniform, into a comprehensive examination of climatic and physical features within a given habitat, giving rise to significant differences that together constitute a biome. 
     For example - the vast swatches of heathland, primarily of Scotland and Wales, are broken down into Lowland Dry Heath, Lowland Wet Heath, Upland Dry Heath, and Upland Wet Heath. Full attention is paid to similarities and differences, comparison with like habitats, a discussion of the flora and fauna of each type, and notes on conservation.
     The photographs throughout the book - on every single page - are glorious, featuring not only the landscape, but images of iconic (and not so iconic) organisms found there. The maps are well done and give a visual overview of the extent of the habitat under discussion.
     At the end of each section there is a brief statement, both informative and slightly whimsical. After "Garden", a habitat familiar to most, take pleasure in the following: "Jennifer Owen, a zoologist who studied the wildlife in her modest suburban garden in Leicester over a 30-year period, recorded over 2,600 species of animals and plants including 20 insect species new to Britain). Oh what potential there exists for all of us!
     Enjoy this book, learn from it, get to know the wonderful regions of the British Isles, and above all cherish and protect them. There can be no better challenge ahead of you.

Britain's Habitats - Princeton University Press - WILDGuides
Authors: Sophie Lake, Durwyn Liley, Robert Still and Andy Swash
Paperback - US$32.50 - £25  -  ISBN:9780691203591
Published: 24 November 2020
416 pages - 700 colour photographs and maps - 5.88" x 8.25"


46 comments:

  1. Very nice book with wonderful information about nature in England ... You should also enrich your biblioteca with books about Dutch nature, because this one is also beautiful!

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    1. If I find one on Dutch nature I will be happy to add it to my library, Ella. You live in a small, densely populated country, but I know from following Dutch blogs that there are many beautiful areas to enjoy nature.

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  2. Hello David, what an interesting post!
    Thank you for your kind comment. We have some health issues in our family now. I'm looking forward to reading your posts with more time.
    Take care!

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  3. I'm sure it's a good book David. I have only been once in England and in London. My daughter was tree years old, and we went to London zoo. It was a tragic event, because we saw a polarbear who had blood on it's paws. It tried to come into a cave who was locked with iron bars. It was so tragic to see, and I have never forgotten it.
    I'm sure that England has a lot of beautiful nature in the wild.

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    1. I am sure that would have been disturbing, Marit. Thank goodness zoos have improved greatly and it is doubtful events such as this would occur again. I have mixed feelings about zoos, but I do recognize that for some species they are the best buffer against extinction.

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  4. This sounds like a good book. I'm glad to hear places are being re-wilded. So much has been thoughtlessly destroyed for profit or out of stupidity. It would be good for plants, birds, insects, wild life and for the human race if they succeed. Every little helps! Hugs, Valerie

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  5. Thank you for this, David, have just now ordered! I look forward to it broadening my horizons - when we get out of lockdown!

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  6. Querido amigo hoy nos dejas otro libro muy interesante y te lo agradezco. Estos lugares son casi igual que mi tierra, las montañas y sus laderas cubiertas de brezo son algo muy común. Cuidaros mucho y un fuerte abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

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  7. Hari OM
    I am trying not to be irritated at the use of "Enland" by your commenters when they actually mean Britain, as per your review and book title... that being Scotland, Wales and England (NOT Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, yet another entity). Sigh... let it go YAM. Thanks for the review David! xx

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    1. Relax! Calm down! The nuances are not apparent to many, I am sure YAM, and even many here in Canada, a fellow Commonwealth country, many would not know the difference. Maybe we could use The British isles and encompass everything!

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  8. Il y'a un livre sur la faune et flore de Haute Loire, je pense l'acheter.
    Bonne journée

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  9. Omg the book must be very cool! Thanks for sharing this book! <3

    www.pimentamaisdoce.blogspot.com

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  10. There are so many species wherever you look. I remember a biologist friend telling me that many freshwater organisms are discovered each year on a single small stream in the Lake District - it just happens to be right next to the headquarters of the Freshwater Biological Association and simply gets more scientists investigating it than any other stream.

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  11. ......above all, cherish and protect them.

    I live in a wonderful area of Britain, with nature reserves not very far from me, but a lot of it is monoculture, sheep eating everything that would provide habitat for hundreds of species. The Welsh farmers are very proud of their ‘tidy’ landscapes, their wives too. They tell me that allowing rewinding is a mess!

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  12. Another great review, David. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Another fine book review!
    This is the sort of "travel guide" I wish I had when we moved to Europe for the first time! Tell me about nature, not statues and buildings!

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    1. I'm with you, Wally. Where did you live in Europe?

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    2. Three different locations in Germany for a total of ten years. Wonderful experience!

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    3. I hope you got to travel and see other parts of Europe - and got to do some birding of course!

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  14. I must see if the book is available from the local library.

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    1. And if not you can suggest that they acquire it, Graham!

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    2. Thank you. It isn't and I have.

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  15. Hello David, This book sounds very interesting. I'm going to order it, but don't know when it will arrive, as we are still receiving Christmas cards!!

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  16. Buenas tardes amigo David, al parecer es otra gran reseña por todo lo que comentas y sobre todo un buen libro guía.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y compadre David. ¡Cuidaros mucho!

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  17. I would have really liked this book when we were living there, as it is now, there is almost no chance of returning there except to have to visit my FIL when, and if, we are ever allowed to travel again!
    Keep safe Diane

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  18. It sounds as if this book (and local equivalents) needs to be read, absorbed and acted on by everyone - and not just the already aware.
    How I wish that habitat wasn't seen so often first and fore most in terms of potential profit for one species. Our species.

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    1. Hi Sue: When I was still working I had fo deal with developers. One of the contract managers I dealt with told me that in their parlance land was referred to as a "profit centre". That just about tells you everything doesn't it?

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  19. Your reviews are a great service to the topic, the authors, the nature lovers among us,people.

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  20. You write so well. An excellent critique.

    Love,
    Janie

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  21. Looks an interesting book about nature in England.

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  22. Thanks for the information David and great review - I have made a note of the book for the future - that is if and when I ever get out into our beautiful wild again.

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  23. Great review David! I do enjoy anything that is nature related. Thanks for sharing!
    Take care, enjoy your day!

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  24. Otro libro interesante, me encantaría verlo. Besos.

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  25. An excellent way to travel through a country either from home or while actually being there.

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  26. Well, anything about Britain sure sounds good to me and this seems like it would be a must for a resident or an intrepid traveler. I like the concept, though, of the species in the yard. I think apart from the birds, the only ones I've seen here are opossum, raccoon, squirrel (three kinds), bunny, groundhog, mole (or vole) and cat. I need to up my game!

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  27. WILDGuides are a pretty good series.....

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  28. This book sounds very good.

    All the best Jan

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  29. I'm not sure why, but I had no trouble visiting today. That book looks quite interesting and I always enjoy your photos.

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  30. Hi David - thanks for highlighting this guide ... I've a few books to read on our landscape and understanding of our lands. I consider myself lucky to be here and to appreciate our natural life ... I don't know whether you saw recently ... the Natural History Museum has discovered two beetles from nearly 4,000 years ago - buried in oak. I quote from the link:

    A pristine pair of ancient beetles were discovered in the Museum collection. They date back nearly 4,000 years. The oak capricorn beetles (Cerambyx) were found in a piece of wood that had been submerged in a peat bog. It was found by a farmer in East Anglia in the 1970s and donated to the Museum".

    Extraordinary to think about - that they've been preserved so long, and have been found now ... stay safe - Hilary

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