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A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America Paperback – April 19, 2002
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"This book is an excellent introduction to the diversity of invertebrates found in the lakes and streams of North America. It is well written and easy to follow for novices and more experienced investigators of these animals. It is intended for a wide audience and includes helpful information for middle and high school students and teachers, as well as local citizens engaged in stream monitoring or other projects investigating their local watersheds. It will also be useful for college-level courses that involve aquatic ecosystems but do not focus specifically on aquatic invertebrates. Additional readers are likely to include anglers and other naturalists interested in learning more about life below the water's surface." --- American Entomologist, Summer 2004
"Any naturalist who works with freshwater environments will want a copy of this book as a valued reference. It provides an amazing and comprehensive summary of the most common aquatic invertebrates." --- Ohio Dragon Flier, September 2002
"[Voshell's book is] much more than the typical field guides on the market today.... A comprehensive guide and study tool, it is part field guide and part biology text, the combination of which is what makes this book unique and valuable.... As complete a guide book as you will ever find or need." --- Ecobeetle Book Reviews, August 8, 2002
About the Author
Dr J Reese Voshell has taught in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech since 1976. He has received numerous research grants to study the effects of pollution and environmental stress on freshwater invertebrates, and has been named to the university's Academy of Teaching Excellence. His 30 years of teaching, outreach, and research have convinced him that people of all ages, educational backgrounds, and personal interests can become fascinated with freshwater invertebrates.
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ALL THAT said, the book I will forever use and recommend MORE highly is the smaller, better-illustrated, eminently-readable and thoroughly enjoyable New FieldBook of Freshwater Life by Elsie Klots! "A Putnam Nature Field Book, Elsie Klots' book of freshwater life is presented as "the most comprehensive guide to the recognition and study of the aquatic plants and animals of North America north of Mexico."" Microscopic organisms, liverworts and mosses, the higher plants, sponges, hydras and jellyfish, moss animalcules, worms, crayfish and shrimp, spiders and mites, insects, snails, limpets and mussels, lampreys and fishes, salamanders, frogs and toads, turtles, snakes and alligators are studied by classification in turn, subdivided into groupings by families. Characteristics are given and behavior (locomotion, respiration, food-getting and reproduction) where applicable is described. Appendices inform as to collecting equipment, the preservation of specimens, and provide keys to the genera of frequently collected insects." (KIRKUS)...I own several good copies of the venerable KLOTS; let me know if you need.
The second section, which includes Amy Wright's beautiful pictures, provides very clearly written material on the distinguishing features of the various families. The third section, which is keyed to the second, provides information about the ecology, habitat, movement, feeding, breathing, life history, and significance (including pollution tolerance) for each of the families discussed.
This book is an excellent introduction. True, it is not as complete as Peckarsky, et al, Thorp and Covich, or McCafferty and Provonsha. On the other hand, it is nowhere nearly as intimidating as these much larger, very detailed, and more technical books are. For the amateur, Voshell and Wright's Guide provides a fine stepping stone to these other, less accessible works. I should expect that a bright, interested high school student would have no trouble using this book. Certainly it was a blessing to a retired chemist who needed to get up to speed on benthic macroinvertebrates.
The illustrations are superb. You don't need a college level understanding of chemistry or biology to read this, but the biology would help. This book stays on topics specific to limnology addressing substrate, water chemistry and other topics. You'll learn about lotic and lentic and other words to confuse your friends and spell checker, and impress the biologists within hearing distance. The only thing it runs short on is variety of bugs. But at 400+ pages adding the somewhat less common would create quite a tome.
The first section is the only part that needs to be read from beginning to end the rest is written for reference starting with illustrations, then going into detail first on the order, then on specific (common) families. You wouldn't want them all, this part takes up more than half the book.
A great book for a hobbyist that isn't afraid to put plants in an aquarium and find out what else nature keeps in its limnos. Best of all you won't have to feed your fishes after reading this book. They'll feed themselves after you've collected a few invertebrates to fill out the food chain.