The Illustrated Atlas of Wildlife.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Crerar, Lorelei
Pub Date: 11/01/2009
Publication: Name: The American Biology Teacher Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 National Association of Biology Teachers ISSN: 0002-7685
Issue: Date: Nov-Dec, 2009 Source Volume: 71 Source Issue: 9
Topic: NamedWork: The Illustrated Atlas of Wildlife (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Woehler, Eric John; Bambaradeniya, Channa; Stonehouse, Bernard; Quilty, Patrick; Musick, John; McKay, George; Woodruff, David; Ginsberg, Joshua; Holing, Dwight; Lumpkin, Susan; Flores, Cinthya
Accession Number: 246348924
Full Text: The Illustrated Atlas of Wildlife. By Channa Bambaradeniya, Cinthya Flores, Joshua Ginsberg, Dwight Holing, Susan Lumpkin, George McKay, John Musick, Patrick Quilty, Bernard Stonehouse, Eric John Woehler, and David Woodruff. 2009. The University of California Press, Berkeley, California (ISBN 978-0-520-25785-6). 288 pp. Hardcover. $39.95


The first impression I had of this book was: WOW! The book is visually very inviting. It is large and has a great deal of beautiful full color photographs, as well as many accurate, life-like drawings. The book is separated into 10 sections, eight of which cover a different part of the globe.

The first section is called "The Living Earth" and is subdivided into the following: life on Earth, evolution, where animals live, basic ecology, seven habitat types, threats to wildlife and conservation. This section alone contains enough information to get a beginning student interested in science. In the threats to wildlife section, the authors detail some of the animals that have become extinct during the last several hundred years: "Steller's sea cow: Formerly inhabiting the Pacific Coast from Japan to California, this sea-weed eating giant was hunted to extinction by 1768 (p. 35)." The recently extinct baiji is also covered in this section and is described as "functionally extinct."

The eight sections that cover the different parts of the globe include Europe, North America, Central & South America, Asia, Africa, Australia & Oceania, the Poles, and, finally, the Oceans. The Asia section will be a good example. Each section is laid out in basically the same manner. A basic overview of each area includes climate zones and vegetation patterns. For example, the section on Asia is subdivided into ten subsections because of its large land mass, and the authors point out: "Asia is the world's largest continent, covering 8.6% of the Earth's surface area" (p. 134). Subsections covered in Asia include the steppes of Central Asia, the Himalayas, the Siberian Wilderness, the Indian Subcontinent, hot and cold deserts, the mountains of Southwest China, East Asia, the Lower Mekong, the Sundaland, and the Philippine Archipelago. Most other regions in the book do not contain as many subsections as does Asia.

Each subsection covers two full pages that are facing each other, which allows the reader to get all of the information on that topic without turning a page. The description gives details about the rivers and wildlife covered in each section. There is a map of each subsection, the temperature and precipitation averages for one representative city, and information about the wildlife. The authors mention many animals that are critically endangered and also cover the problems those animals face. In the Indian Subcontinent section, the authors state "Many species of animals, including several endemic amphibians and reptiles live here" (p. 146). Those animals are covered in more detail on those two pages.

The book also has several continuous themes. For instance "Conservation Watch" highlights endangered animals from that part of the globe. The book uses a system of lightning bolts to explain the status of some animals. Red means the animal is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red lists and yellow means that it is considered endangered.

The book is certainly one of the most beautiful volumes I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It is very well laid out, with many splendid charts and graphs. For instance, species are tallied into known and unknown pie charts; the known species are divided into invertebrates and vertebrates, and the vertebrates are broken down into the five groups of vertebrates. Each wedge of the pie charts is expanded into another pie chart, which is separated by more details. The only criticism I have of the book is that the scientific name for every organism is not given; rather scientific names are only included for some creatures.

Although I cannot find a specific use for this book in the classroom, I feel that most children, and certainly all of the adults I have shown the book to, would benefit from reading The Illustrated Atlas of Wildlife. The outstanding illustrations draw the viewer into the captions, which further lead the reader into the text. It would make such a lovely book for night time story reading with younger children!

Lorelei Crerar

Ph.D. Candidate, Environmental Science

and Policy

George Mason University
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.