Most helpful positive review
Comprehensive, informative and pretty. Almost perfect.
on August 22, 1998
This is destined to become one of the great classics in American Natural History. Dr. Petranka describes every species of salamander in exhaustive detail. His photographs and physical descriptions should enable even a novice to correctly identify every specimen. The accurate range maps make identification even easier. I especially enjoyed the habitat and ecological data provided for each species. Good stuff.
This is a great gift book for birdwatchers. It will broaden their horizons by forcing them to look down for a change.
Comment: The current trend in taxonomy is to split species rather than to lump them. Often this splitting is based on esoteric DNA differentiation. Fifteen years from now, the "lumpers" (me) will regain ascendency and a number of currently valid species will be relegated to varieties. The text follows the current splitting trend, but it does include a discussion of each species taxonomy and its relationships to closely related species.
Minor quibble: The photography is excellent. Beyond excellent. I only wish the editors had allowed for larger images and more of them, but that would have jacked up the price. I guess that sixty bucks is the perceived limit for this type of book. But salamanders are beautiful little animals that deserve better.
Buy this book. Read it. Then go out into the woods and turn over a few logs. Then put them back.