The natural history of southern New Zealand / edited by John Darby ... [et al.].
Contributor(s): Darby, John | Fordyce, R. Ewan | Mark, Alan Francis | Probert, Keith | Townsend, Colin | Otago Museum.Material type: BookPublisher: Dunedin, N.Z. : University of Otago Press, 2003Description: 387 p. : col. ill., col. maps ; 30 cm.ISBN: 1877133515 (hbk.) : .Subject(s): OTAGO | SOUTHLAND | NEW ZEALAND | BIOLOGY | GEOLOGY | GEOMORPHOLOGY | FOSSILS | HISTORY | LIFE | PLANT DISEASES | CLIMATE | BIOGEOGRAPHY | ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT | GLACIATION | HUMAN ACTIVITY | FORESTS | SHRUBLANDS | TUSSOCKS | GRASSLANDS | MOUNTAINS | ENVIRONMENTS | LAKES | RIVERS | STREAMS | INLAND WATERS | WETLANDS | COASTAL ZONE | SEAHoldings: GRETA POINT: 502(931.33/.35) NAT
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"Published in association with the Otago Museum"--T.p. verso.
Editors: John Darby, R. Ewan Fordyce, Alan Mark, Keith Probert, Colin Townsend.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -370) and index.
A comprehensive exploration of southern New Zealand. Within southern New Zealand there are three national parks of outstanding beauty and interest - Fiordland, Mount Aspiring and Rakiura/Stewart Island, which gives some indication of the scope of this new book. Much has already been written about the natural history of southern New Zealand, but this collaborative work by leaders in their specialist fields takes the published knowledge of this region to a new level. In thirteen chapters, these authors explore the region in depth and breadth, delving into its history and examining conservation efforts to safeguard its future: they examine the geology, landforms, fossils, climate, biogeography, environmental change since the last glaciaton, the human factor, forests and shrublands, and tussock grasslands and associated mountain lands, inland waters and wetlands, the coast, the open sea and nature conservation.
A list of the best New Zealand reference books would have to include Two Hundred Years of New Zealand Painting, by Gil Docking (1971); The New Zealand Historical Atlas (1997); Dollimore's New Zealand Guide (1952); The Dictionary of New Zealand Bio-graphy, edited by W H Oliver (1990); W R B Oliver's New Zealand Birds (1930); A Treasury of New Zealand Fishes, by David H Graham (1952); the Edmonds Cook Book - and, as of now, the absolutely splendid The Natural History of Southern New Zealand. "A publication on this scale happens only once in a lifetime," say its publishers. Quite right. The work of five editors (John Darby, R Ewan Fordyce, Alan Mark, Keith Probert and Colin Townsend), it includes contributions by 53 authors, who have applied the rigorous standards of their respective scientific disciplines to produce what must be the definitive study of the southern South Island. That area covers Waitaki River to the east, Jackson Bay to the west, and south to Stewart Island. We learn of the oldest fossils (graptolites, dating from the Ordovician era), before the book spreads up from the Earth's crust to focus on chapters including climate, forests, wetlands, tussock, the coast and open sea. And so: spiders, lichen, skinks, the poor old pigfish, and the -baffling case of Hoplodactlys delcourti, the gigantic gecko, now extinct, which may or may not have been the kawakaweau, a creature of Maori lore. The book is handsomely illustrated, with many photos taken from field trips, as well as pollen diagrams, distribution maps of moths and beetles, and an acoustic chart of calls made by a long-tailed bat as it approaches and attacks an insect. Depressingly, there is much on our flightless population - New Zealand, home of the footsore, unambitious duck, goose, cricket, and even a fly that cannot fly. The book looks back to the extinct moa and the extinct dolphins and the extinct laughing owl (not so funny now, is it?), and also looks forward, with a fascinating chapter on climate change: author Blair Fitzharris calculates that global warming will lead to a 10 percent drop in tourism, but a 300 percent increase in fruit and grain production. Invest now. Lloyd Davis is passionate about introduced mammals, even the hedgehog: "We should hate them with a passion." Alison Cree is, unfortunately, twee, twice. Page 184: "If this book had been written just prior to the arrival of humans in NZ, it undoubtedly would have been very different." And there is her unncessary anthropomorphism about female geckos on page 233: "Imagine being pregnant for 14 months - with twins. On top of that, imagine doing it through winter, without heating, when air temperatures are close to freezing", etc. But there is an admirable lack of the loathsomeness of punning headlines; everywhere, the book plays it straight, and plays it true. A modern masterpiece.
GRETA POINT: 502(931.33/.35) NAT
Te Puna updated 22/08/12 HR