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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 1999
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Those of us who love looking at critters under a microscope definitely needed a book like this, a field guide to freshwater microfauna. This book provides stunningly beautiful photographs, useful hints on how and where to find the organisms and how to prepare them for observation, and so-so pen-and-ink sketches of the organisms. My main complaint is that the book doesn't go far enough and doesn't tell us enough. This is mainly noticeable in the tables where "Other Information" is provided along with each organism pictured. The information given is usually only the size of the organism, which is moderately useful (my microscope has no measuring device attached and I imagine most amateurs have the same problem), and occasionally another comment. Much more information should go here. For example, under Dero, the common freshwater Oligochaete, there is no mention of its ciliated anal gills, one of its most distinctive characteristics. A few comments about how to distinguish organism A from similar organisms B, C, and D would be very useful. In the planarian section, the drawings and information provided are too sketchy to be helpful. I have found about five freshwater turbellarians in the water here on Guam that I would love to identify, and I found I couldn't use this chart at all. So, this book is a good start, a good beginning, and in the next edition I would like to see a lot more organisms and a lot more information about the organisms!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I teach biology but my background is not micro. I loved this book because it allowed me to help students identify 90% of the specimens found in pond water. It has a "where to look for" and "what to look for" section for each organism and also interesting facts. Another useful section is the appendix describing collection techniques. I recommend it for teachers of secondary students.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
The "Guide to Microlife" by Kenneth G. Rainis and Bruce J. Russell could have been a better book. The color photos and general format promises a lot, but to me the book somehow does not quite deliver on that promise. Perhaps this is in part because it is apparently aimed at middle to high school students only and (at least in spots) this makes the book somewhat unsatisfactory to an amateur (or even high school student) who might want to go somewhat beyond this level. This tendency really comes across in the discussion of instruments with which to examine microscopic life. In addition to the rather simplified discussion of the microscope I found a few factual errors. For example I was irritated by the implication that 2000X is a reasonable high power for light microscopes. Except with very expensive equipment and/or some electronic means you would be hard pressed to use such magnification effectively. Commercial microscopes advertised with such high powers are usually junk. The highest usable magnification in even high quality light microscopes is generally 1000X (oil immersion). Higher powers or any power much above 500X used dry are simply empty magnification. Cheaper instruments should never magnify much over 50-100X. Generally, higher powered objectives have to be highly corrected to function well and are thus fairly expensive.

On the positive side the photos are good and generally well selected and the descriptions, while a bit short, are adequate to introduce the subject. The "Did you know..." sections contain some very interesting facts and the classification is reasonably up to date. Thus this book may serve as a reasonably solid short lived introduction to the subject.

I suspect, however, that anyone really interested in microscopy will go beyond this book level rapidly and the rest will never become deeply interested in the subject. On the whole I am not sure exactly why this text does not quite make it, but Nachtigall's "Exploring with the Microscope" is to my mind a better introduction to microlife. From there the enthusiast (including high and middle-school students) would go to more specialized volumes, such as those on diatoms, protozoa, fungi or algae, rather than bother further with the simplified descriptions in the "Guide to Microlife." However, I suspect that, unlike this text, Nachtigall's book will be retained in your library even after you go beyond it.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
An excellent book for the amateur scientist or middle/high school students. Good colour photos make identification fairly easy and stimulate further exploration. One major omission is a description of the habits of the various species. `What does it feed on ?` Enquiring students want to know, and it would be helpful to have all the basic information in a single book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
After getting my Celestron 44340 LCD Digital LDM Biological Microscope I needed a photographic inspiration and a good guide to the microlife I would be finding. Many of the microscopic creatures were unknown to me, and this book helped identify what I'd found. The book has colorful, detailed photos and I identified a number of diatoms & algae, bursaria, scenedesmus, peranema, flatworms, rotifers, copepods, ostracods, amphipods, fairy shrimp, vorticella, and tardigrades.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
I went looking for a good reference book for teaching my high school students about the "lower" Kingdoms (Monera, and Protista). This is an exceptional book for just that purpose. The organization is good, there are lots of excellent photos and diagrams to assist students with identifications. The simplicity of the book in terms of "just enough information" is what makes it such a valuable reference. I would highly recommend it for any science classroom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
Wonderfully organized, indexed, drawn, and explained for a serious beginner. I too wish a little more explanation was given for each species and some guidance on buying a microscope.

An indispensable identification guide to the microscopic world!
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on February 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Guide contains sections for Monerans, microfungi, protists, and microanimals. Protists and microanimals are especially extensive sections. If this guide does not ID the organisms you see under the microscope it will at least get you in the ballpark. Information for organisms include name (sometimes to Genus level, sometimes species level), drawing, microhabitat and other key identifying info. "Microanatomy" shown for major groups represented. Many color plates throughout. Appendices include collecting and culturing techniques, slide prep (for hanging drop and microaquarium) and staining. I highly recommend this book for amateur naturalists or resource for science classroom.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I liked this book because it contains information about many microorganisms. If you want to know exactly what you are looking at under the microscope, this book is for you. It is easy to find certain species by using the front pages of the book and the side because the four sections are color-coded.
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on July 9, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A great guide for micro jungle hunters !
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