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Spiders of North America: An Identification Manual

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The editors of this manual, Darrell Ubick, Pierre Paquin, Paula E. Cushing, and Vince Roth, are all well known arachnologists. Over 30 other equally well known arachnologists from the United States, Europe, and South America, are chapter authors.
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Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 377 pages
  • Publisher: American Arachnological Society; Spi edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977143902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977143900
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Spiral-bound
This is a very cool book, but it is not a field guide. It is a very well organized and illustrated scientific key. It has one purpose and one purpose only. Determine the genus (the level of identification above species) of the spider you have captured, and provide references to publications that discuss the species in that genus. To utilize this book you should have or be prepared to purchase a dissecting microscope. In many cases to complete a rigorous identification you will need to count setae (hairs), examine fangs or dissect and examine the gonads of the specimen. It is also important to realize that some identifications require killing the spider. One may attempt to skip steps in the key requiring dissection, but that of course introduces complexity and reduces the certainty of your identifications. In some cases dissection may simply be required. Another thing to note is that this manual is for use in the laboratory, or other environment whe you can manipulate the specimen. It is basically useless for field identification.

If you are disappointed by the above description and were hoping to identify live spiders kindly left in your back yard, the unfortunate reality is that spiders are complex little critters and identification beyond the family level is painstaking. The authors cannot be faulted for that, as it is simply a fact of life.

This is clearly a good book for the scientist or graduate student. It is also a good book for someone like me who has a biology degree, is not working in the field, but has been continually vexed by the lack of specificity in field guides. It may even be a good book to give to an aspiring high-schooler who has a genuine interest in biology, particularly spiders or insects, but ONLY if you also give them a stereo dissecting microscope too. This book is not for children below high school, and not for children or adults who have only a casual interest in spiders.
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Format: Spiral-bound
This book allows one to identify most spiders of North America to genus level. The book comes with excellent depictions of taxonomic characters so identification is aided by visual cues. An added bonus is that even though species-level identifications are not always found in the book, it gives you references as to where to find the species-level taxonomic guides. This is a great help when one is trying to ID a specimen to the species level. Another great feature of this book is the organization. The beginning of the book holds a key to families and the rest of the book are those families and the taxonomic guides to the genera within them. Excellent book. I could not do my research without it.
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Format: Spiral-bound
This is a superb key, the best I have ever come across to any invertebrate group. What makes it unique is the good quality line drawings illustrating every step in the key. It can therefore be followed easily without having to backtrack to a glossary of terms and is invaluable for beginners to the group. The up to date and revised taxonomy will also suit professional arachnologists.
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
If you are really serious about spider ID, this book is a must have. Very thorough keys, very easy to use.
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
And on that day, I and my family hope to be long dead, because usually, we humans are not nice to our eight legged friends. Spiders are evolutionary beasts, capable, like many arthropods, of amazing physical feats of strength, speed, and agility. And this wonderful book explains on every single page exactly why they are so awesome. Their anatomy is functional, everything about them is straight to the point. If a spider were man sized, who would win, man or spider? If you said the man, you truly need to study this book. And yet, as if to offset that statement, this book, I warn you all, is not some pansies field guide. This is an industrial strength, hardcore dose of fanged reality. If you do not like chelicerae, coxa, mandibles, simple eyes, or the finer points of Latin words that your tongue will stumble on, this is not your book, look for audubon's field guides, and let the nerd herd swarm over this book like blow flies over rotting meat. This book is for professional Arachnologists who want to reminisce about what it was like to be a freshman in college, studying creepy crawlies 101, this is for dedicated people who want to take apart a spider from the outside to the inside, and know what they are viewing under a microscope down to the last syllable. If you don't want to do any of that, and just looked at the black white picture and thought, "That looks cool", then please, do not buy this book and burn it once you realize its precious content is not to your liking. I am an aspiring biology fan, and am drawn to the fabulous secrets hidden by spiders. I will do the most disgusting dissections on Earth if I can get my hands on cold, hard knowledge, which is saying something about my drive for knowledge. I hate killing and dissecting anything. But I will if that is what it takes, and it is.Read more ›
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By mainiac1 on December 13, 2012
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
A very complete guide to spiders of North America. The biggest problem is that all of the illustrations are in black and white. Color is very important in IDing everything. The next thing is a microscope is necessary to use the capabilities of this book.
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I note that several reviewers criticize this book for being too technical, pointing out that its illustrations are line drawings rather than photographs or life-like paintings, and asserting that, to actually identify the spiders it describes to family or genus, you will need a dissecting microscope (as if, using other guides available on the market, you can dispense with such contrivances). I beg to differ. Like it or not, many if not most spiders simply cannot be identified to family or genus without examining their anatomical characters under some kind of magnification. You can muddle about with photographic "guides" that deceive you into thinking you can shortcut that step, but in time you'll discover that such guides often lead you astray. This guide will not, and for that reason it is a book that I have consulted several times a day since purchasing it soon after it was published. Though a number of important revisions have been made to araneid taxonomy since then, it remains one of the most valuable resources I possess for information on the spiders of North America. The appendices include a robust glossary and pronunciation guide, replete with detailed drawings crafted by the talented artist, Nadine Dupérré, plus an etymological dictionary of North American spider genus names. The etymological dictionary is, itself, worth the full price of the book, so if you do not yet have this book in your library, I urge you to get one, soon. It will eventually be out of print, and even if used copies are available afterward, they will probably cost more than you will pay for a new book. So, buy the book, and the sooner you do so, the better.

One more important point: let's say you don't have a dissecting microscope, and have no intention of getting one.
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