Walker's Marsupials of the World (Walker's Mammals (Paperback)) Paperback – 12 Sep 2005
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Professional naturalists will find [these volumes] invaluable as a handy reference, and amateurs—at least those citizens alive to their earthly environment—should delight in finding so much fascinating information made so available and palatable.(Audubon)
Walker has made available a mine of information, for the specialist as well as for the casually interested.(New York Times)
Speaking as a reader who is mildly addicted to 'standard works of reference,' I must say that I find it a very welcome addition to my library, and suspect that it will become my regular first port of call when trying to answer any mammalogical question.(International Zoo News)
Unlike many academic reference works, all editions [Walker's Mammals], the new one included, are as accessible to amateurs as to professionals.... For wildlife enthusiasts, this set is an indispensable resource. After being exposed to this kind of thorough, detailed information saturation, many readers may find it hard to go back to a plain old encyclopedia for their animal questions.(Bloomsbury Review)
Anyone seeking information and understanding of this large group of mammals will need to read this book.(David Bardack American Reference Books Annual 2006-01-00)
I recommend this text as a fascinating and handy ready reference guide for amateur and professional naturalists, as well as any member of the general science audience.(Robert R. J. Grispino Science Books and Films 2006-01-00)
Gives a state of the art introduction to the marsupials.(P. Langer, Giessen Mammalian Biology 2008-01-00)
About the Author
Ronald M. Nowak is the author of the fifth and sixth editions of Walker's Mammals of the World. His other works on mammalogy include North American Quaternary Canis and several sections in the National Geographic Society's Wild Animals of North America, for which he also was editorial consultant. He received a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Kansas in 1973 and was staff mammalogist at the former Office of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, from 1974 to 1987.
Top customer reviews
The book gives details of each one covering common and acientific names,size,physical traits,habitat,ecology,behaviour,social interactions,reproduction,life span and conservation plus an illustration.
Well researched and written but it would have been much better if the illustrations were in colour
NB.marsupials:pouched animals whose usual method of reproduction is egg laying or placental.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The marsupials were once as diverse as the familiar placental mammals, but recently they have greatly suffered from competition with placental mammals....however, marsupials can in no way be regarded as 'primitive'. In Australia, many marsupials are 150 percent well-adapted to Australia's Hot Dry environment and Very Poor soils and low biological energy availability. Furthermore, the Worldwide Marsupial Family is a noble and extremely ancient lineage that stretches back more than 120 million years into deep time.
The fundamental organizational unit within this book is the 'Genus'. Each Genus of marsupial is described in roughly a page of informative and terse and very densely-typed prose. When people talk loosely of what 'type' of animal a particular animal is, the particular 'type' of animal often can be named scientifically as the animal's Genus. Within each and every Genus of marsupial, all of the existing species are described in this book, mainly with a view towards comparing the attributes of the different species within the Genus, rather than by giving extensive details of each species. Each Genus is also accompanied by a Black & White photograph of a representative species within that genus.
Thus, the emphasis of this book is on breadth of coverage rather than depth. In about 220 pages, the entire range of marsupial morphology and behaviour and habitat is described, so the purpose of this book is to give an overview and to provide a useful reference for the entire Marsupialia grouping.
This book is a very worthwhile reference work for libraries, for the persistent and enthusiastic amateur naturalist, for biology students at various levels (assuming that they have at least some modest background knowledge of biology!), and for professional scientists. It enables a person having at least some prior knowledge of biology to make a 'quick and easy' comparison of ALL of the different types of marsupials.....and to think about the various hypotheses as to their evolutionary histories. Understanding is achieved much FASTER here than when you read a 'novel-like' popular-level book that is full of historical asides and descriptions of the peculiar personalities of the scientists involved.
The strength of this book is its academic rigour, its clear and well-defined structure, and its conciseness:
(1) It is terse and densely informative, with a rigorously logical and clear structure.
(2) Each chapter (and each section and each sub-section within each chapter), is clearly organized and split up according to the assigned Linnaean Classifications of these animals. A chapter covers an entire Order, within which there are smaller sections for Families within that Order, and smaller sections for the Genera within each Family.
This clarity enables a rapid appreciation of marsupial Diversity & Evolution, so this reference work is a useful 'first port of call' for obtaining information about various marsupials. Furthermore, this book usually avoids the use of excessive and unnecessary biological jargon.
The weaknesses of this book are mostly connected to the age of the information provided and the book's production values:
(1) While the publication date is 2005, the latest date for the copious references used in the main body of the text is about 1995.(However, the book is partly updated with an excellent 2005 introductory essay by Christopher Dickman.)
(2) Black & White photographs are used throughout. Unfortunately, a significant minority of these photographs are not of good enough quality to enable a really good appreciation of what an animal looks like.
The age of this excellent reference, and the existence of good numbers of 'so-so' photographs, have meant that I have had to reluctantly reduce my rating to three-and-a-half stars. However, you can't go wrong if you buy yourself one of the many 'super cheap' copies floating around on the Internet.
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