A Primer of Ecological Statistics. 2nd edition. , and . 2012. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. 639 pp. $54.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-1-605350-64-6.
This is a book I wish I'd had when I was a graduate student. The authors say it is not intended as a textbook, rather as a supplement to one, but I suspect that it would serve just fine in that primary role, and certainly so at the undergraduate level. Gotelli and Ellison walk readers through basic principles of probability and statistics and then proceed to experimental design and data analysis. This edition also contains a new section on measuring biodiversity and estimating population size. The section on data management contains excellent guidance. Abundant footnotes throughout explain the history behind techniques and ideas, which answers many of the why do we do it that way questions students ask and most textbooks overlook. Supplementary data and code (in R) are available on the book's website.
Among Wolves: Gordon Haber's Insights into Alaska's Most Misunderstood Animal. , and . 2013. Snowy Owl Books, Fairbanks, AK. 281 pp. $29.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-1-60223-2181.
The 2009 plane crash in Denali National Park that took Gordon Haber's life ended 43 years of intense scientific study of the park's wolves: one of the longest-running large carnivore studies on the continent. This book is intended as a summary of that research, an appraisal of its conservation impact, and a celebration of Haber's life and legacy. Impressively illustrated, its most poignant and effective parts are the many contributions of Haber's friends and colleagues, along with excerpts from his field notes. Wolves inspire fierce passions in people, and this book proudly follows a long literary tradition documenting and exploring scientists’ and conservationists’ relationships with that species and its ever-present controversies.
Decision Making in Natural Resource Management: A Structured, Adaptive Approach. , and . 2013. John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, U.K. 446 pp. $45.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-470-67174-0.
Structured decision making (SDM) is the latest in a long series of attempts to reduce the art of navigating complex decision processes into a quantifiable, replicable method. Scientists seeking guidance for applying this method will find Conroy and Peterson's book a helpful guide to SDM. The book builds on adaptive management theory by drawing on the authors’ considerable experience in resource management. Sections on specific quantitative tools and their applications are supplemented by detailed appendices and a website. The authors’ findings from their own successes and failures are clearly described and discussed, a rare and welcome candidness. From that discussion, it appears that this approach works best with problems that are well bounded and where participants prioritize collective processing of information and uncertainty, rather than resolving deeper conflicts over societal values.
Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know. 2013. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K. 329 pp. $67.48 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-19-992201-7.
This book is a rich basic resource that will be widely read and will serve as an excellent introduction to one of conservation biology's most vexing problems. Writing for a broad, nontechnical audience, Simberloff draws on his considerable experience to explore general principles of invasion biology, real and potential responses to invasive species, and the consequences of invasions. The book's great strength is the abundance of diverse examples, which paint a vivid picture and convey the sense of urgency that permeates research on this subject. The book's Achilles’ heel is that although it describes the numerous controversies around biological invasions, it could engage more substantively with them. That said, readers are certainly given enough material and citations to explore those issues further if they choose.
Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art. 2013. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 280 pp. $29.95 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-520-23275-4.
Harry Greene's exuberance for life infuses this scientific autobiography, which overflows with his passion for herpetology, the wild places that his beloved reptiles inhabit, and very human friendships. The book traces the author's academic and personal history, his explorations, relationships, and his later-life reflections in a readable, easygoing manner. Impressively, the interspersions of biological detail from the authors’ and his colleagues’ research come off more as bursts of enthusiasm than intrusions into the narrative. This book is as much for those who retain or want to rekindle a sense of wonder about the natural world as it is for those who share the author's love of snakes, lizards, and tortoises.