Top positive review
73 people found this helpful
A vast improvement over 3rd edition!
on November 2, 2006
As someone majoring in Wildlife Science, I needed to have a field guide for my studies. I bought the previous edition about 3 yrs ago, but found it lacking. For example, it showed the historic range of raccoons, but not the current (expanded) range. It also used older genera (plural for genus) names & had very few bat species depicted. These & other factors made it impractical for me to use the book in my studies.
However, this new edition appears to be much more applicable for someone like me. It has color maps (the 3rd edition's maps were black & white) which are included in the species accounts (rather than at the end). Introduced species & their populations are shown in blue; historic ranges are shown using dashed lines; & sea mammals' ranges are included (no ranges were given for them in the 3rd ed.). Select maps are even shown with county lines drawn in in large states like CA & TX so residents can easily determine whether a species is in their county or not.
The color plates are better too. Animals are depicted in more natural body positions & appear more lifelike. There are many many more bat species depicted than in the 3rd ed. Sea mammals are included in the color plates; in the third edition, they were only depicted in black & white drawings. Introduced species (like the Blackbuck) are also depicted in this section. Select black & white animal tracks are included in the color plate section, rather than on the inside cover.
Skull identification is very important to biologists, since skulls are often all you'll find of an animal. This book has color photos of various skulls. The 3rd ed. had only black & white photos, which wasn't so bad, but I like the color photos better. Also, the dental formulae are given in this section for the respective genera. I will say, however, that I did like the dental formulae chart in the 3rd ed. because it summarized them all in 1 place, rather than spreading them out over several pages.
Immediately following these plates is a section of illustrated shrew teeth & molars of sm mammals. On the page just before the Species Accounts section is a depiction of pocket gophers with grooves on their incisors, a feature often used to distinguish between them.
Although most color photos are found in the skull section, there are more throughout the species accounts.
Species' names have been updated too. In the 3rd ed, the author chose to stick w/ some of the older names. In this edition, the accepted names (like Spermophilus) are used & even Bison bison was updated to Bos bison.
In the species accounts, common names other than the one Reid used are written in sm uppercase letters below the line w/ the common & scientific names. For example:
COYPU Myocastor coypus (introduced)
The species accounts describe the animal, sounds it makes, similar species, habits, habitat, range, & even its status (whether it's common or endangered, & which organization lists them as such, such as the USFWS & the CITES appendix #). The previous edition included eyeshine colors (which are included in some entries in this new edition), number of mammae, & economic impacts, but for the most part these features were left out of this edition. However, I doubt many people will miss them.
I think this edition is excellent. I only had my book for a day & yet I found all the improvements mentioned above. I recommend putting a self-adhesive plastic book cover on your book because the plasticized coating wears a bit quickly. (Note: I've had my book just over a year now and am slightly editing my comments to fix minor typos & improve the flow a bit :})