Monday, July 2, 2007

"Seashore Crabs of Hsin-Chu City" by Ping-Ho & Ming- Shih Hung. (1997)

Hsin-Chu Government. 122pp.

To date, there are already numerous colourful and informative publications on the crabs of Taiwan. These publications have brought to public attention the diversified crab fauna of Taiwan. This new book is the first to report on one localised area - the seashore of Hsin-Chu City.

The aim of this book is to serve as a guide book for the citizens of Hsin-Chu who are interested in nature and conservation and to be used as a teaching text-book in local schools. Its intention is to bring to public awareness that rapid urbanisation is also rapidly destroying the natural habitat of the coastline.

Hsin-Chu City, being one of the most densely populated cities in Taiwan, is located on the north-western coast of Taiwan, facing the Straits of Taiwan. The coastal stretch is only 13.5 km but comprises of various habitats to support various kinds of crabs. Hence, the diversified fauna. In this book, 43 species from 10 families are being reported.

The first chapter of the book gives an introduction to the various types of habitat found along the seashore of Hsin-Chu City. The second chapter, gives a concise morphological study of the crab. The figures are complete with labeling on the different parts of the crab, so that the reader can immediately relate the labels to the different body parts especially when one is reading the diagnosis. This is very helpful for the general public or non-carcinologist because many of the crabs are very similar and morphological characters have to be used to differentiate them. The third chapter is a pictorial guide to the crabs, complete with excellent colour photographs, its vernacular Taiwanese name, scientific name, diagnosis and habitat. The authors have also included the natural distribution of each species besides their distributions in Taiwan. This is one addition feature not found in previous publications.

There are also drawbacks in this book. Despite the excellent photography, many of the crabs were not taken in their natural habitat, rendering it impossible for the reader to directly relate the crab to its natural habitat. This book is a local publication supported by the Hsin-Chin City governmental offices, there is no ISBN number. Hence, it will be quite difficult to obtain or purchase outside Hsin-Chu City as well as any carcinologist or non-carcinologist who can understand Chinese.

Ngan Kee Ng
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge 119260, Republic of SIngapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 46(2): 663-664 on 30 Dec 1998.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"An illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore". by Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner.

Sunrise Publishing Ltd 1997. ISBN 981-3066-00-8.

Kim Seng is one of the foremost birders in Singapore and since early childhood has been recording the status, occurrence and activities of wild birds on the island. His depth of knowledge and detailed observations has at long last been committed to book format. As the Bird Recorder for the Nature Society he has provided us with an accurate up to date record of the wild birds of Singapore.

Adapted from Accessed on 2nd July 2007.

This well illustrated book provides the most comprehensive coverage of Singapore birds so far and meets the needs of all active local and visiting birdwatchers. With most species accurately portrayed in colour and an associated text succinctly written with carefully worded descriptions and useful data on status, range and habitats. Of particular importance and value are the appendices that provide listings of extinct, threatened and escape species and also suggest possible additions to the list.

For the more ancient birders including myself the Sibley and Moore taxonomy and nomenclature will take some acceptance and getting use to and finding the right place for families may initially be a chore. Despite cross references being given a few of these are incorrect (see Magpie Robin and White-rumped Shama) and I would have preferred the format used in the Birds of Thailand by Philip Round which has text opposite or at least closer to the plates.

There are useful sections on birdwatching techniques, places to visit and habitats locations but these need associated maps and more information on the generous sized island map would have improved the format. The coloured illustrations have a rather smooth appearance possibly due to printing effects and such things as feather marginations which I suspect wee on the original paintings have somehow got lost. Standards in associated bird guides tend to be fairly high these days and one does get fussy I suppose. Despite this, the general jizz of the birds is good and separation of similar species should not prove too difficult using the plates.

I personally found the front cover and inside photographs rather glarey in colour contrast but this is rather subjective. Using the photographs with a small map might have been a better way to present individual site locations on separate pages. he copy I obtained had a spine problem and within a few days of purchase the cover became detached. As this book is designed for use in the field a better quality binding should have been used.

In the text a few points worthy of mention are that the House Crow has now been added to with five other bird species that are no longer protected in Singapore and one of these the migrant Purple-backed Starling which is not a common bird (Wild Animals and Birds Act amendment 1991) (see page 21). I also note the comment that some protected areas have little significance for conservation and are therefore not listed (see page 17). These include a number of parks some of which are very significant as demonstrated by the recent account in this journal by Angus Lamont on Kent Ridge Park (see Raffles Bull. Zool. 46:113) where at least 151 species were recorded and this location has no tidal mudflats. We should not underrate parks and corridor systems through urban areas as they can in total contribute to supporting good numbers of bird species even if the diversity is less than nature reserves.

As the writer rightly points out the losses suffered to Singapore birds have been quite disastrous. It is hoped that this well written and illustrated local guide will serve to educate future generations sufficiently to save what is left and ensure that no further species join the extinct list in appendix 1!!

Clive Briffett
School of Building and Real Estate
National University of Singapore

First Published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 46(2): 662-663 on 30 Dec 1998.

"Marine Food Fishes and Fisheries of Sabah" by P. K. Chin. (1998)

ISBN 983-812-019-7. 280 ppp. Natural History Publications, Ming Kiang Sdn. Bhd., Lot 2G16-2G18, Api-Api centre, Jalan Centre Point, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia.


Adapted from Borneo Store. Accessed on 2nd July 2007.

The marine fish fauna of the huge Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo is generally regarded to be one of exceptional diversity. Strangely enough, there has never been any attempt to put the information into one tome. This deficiency is now partially resolved, and again, it is by the "dean" of Sabahan ichthyology, Datuk Chin Phui Kong. Best known for his book (with Bob Inger) on the freshwater Fishes of North Borneo (Chicago Field Museum, 1962) which has become one of the key references on Bornean freshwater fish, Datuk Chin has now moved on to the sea. The present book focuses on the fishing industry and commercial species found in Sabah's waters, and gives us a snapshot of the richness of the state's coastal waters. Of the over 600 species which appear in its markets, 376 of the more common ones are described and in most cases, figured in colour. The photographs are in most cases, excellent, showing specimens as they would appear fresh in the market. Interesting is that in addition to the standard taxonomic descriptions, details of the local fishery for each species is provided. Of value too is the provision of local vernacular names (Malay, Chinese and Bajau) for each species. In addition to the fish information, Datuk Chin has also included a history of the fishery industry in Sabah. the fishing gears used and the types of boats utilised. All in all, a very nice book for any practicing ichthyologist as well as informed fisherman, professional or amateur!

Peter K. L. Hg
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge, Singapore 119260, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 46(2): 661 on 30 Dec 1998.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Bivalves; Gastropods" by J. E. Poutiers (1998)

In: K. E. Carpenter. V. H. Niem (eds.). FAO species identification guide for fisheries purposes. The living marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific Volume 1. Seaweeds, corals, bivalves and gastropods. Pp. 123-686. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, ISBN 92-5-104051-6.

Some 187 species of bivalves from 35 families (pp. 123-362), and 263 gastropod species from 43 families (pp. 363-686) are described and superbly illustrated in this ambitious volume, which is a welcome addition to the acclaimed series of species identification guides published by the FAO. The geographic area covered in this work stretches from the Malacca Straits eastwards to Piteairn Island in the Pacific Ocean, including the Indonesian archipelago, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Northern Territories and Queensland in Australia, and the majority of tropical Pacific islands. The guide is well organized, with sections on general remarks, glossary of technical terms, and shell keys to bivalve and gastropod families which are arranged in a rough phylogenetic sequence. Each family is introduced by way of diagnostic characters, habitat, biology, and fisheries, with comments on similar families occurring in the area, as well as taxonomic references. A strictly conchologial key to species is also provided for each family. Every species treated is illustrated with line and ink. Species descriptions include the following heading: frequent synonyms and misidentifications, FAO names is English and French, diagnostic shell characters, size, habitat, biology, fisheries, and geographical distribution.

Adapted from FAO Corporate Document Repository. Accessed on 29th Jun 2007.

According to the editors (p.iv), the purpose of this guide "is to provide an accurate means to identify to the appropriate taxonomic level those organisms that are of potential use or likely to be captured by marine fisheries in the region", and in addition, it is stated (p.iv) that "this work is the first attempt to provide comprehensive identification and biological information for marine resources in the region". The coverage on the whole is fairly comprehensive, with the following twelve families having the highest number (in descending order each for bivalves and gastropods) of species described in the guide: bivalves-Veneridae (33 spp.). Arcidae (16 spp.) Cardiidae (12 spp.). Pectinidae (11 spp.). Mytilidae (10 spp.) and Tellinidae (9 spp.); gastropods-Cypraeidae (25 spp.). Strombidae (23 spp.) Muricidae (21 spp.). Conidae (13 spp.). Naticidae (12 spp.) and Neritidae (11 spp.). Although diagnostic shell characters are not provided for about half of the species included in the guide (markings meant to distinguish species provided with diagnostic characters from those without were unfortunately misprinted), the excellent drawings and keys are adequate for initial identification, at least to the family level. Two omissions, however, are significant in the light of the objectives spelled out by the editors. One is the complete exclusion of the indigenous common names. In my opinion, the exclusion of local name(s) seriously undermines the usefulness of this guide, since the users are likely to be more familiar with the common local name than with French or English names. Of course, if there is no local name referable to the shell, then the FAO name would be a useful suggestion. But to ignore an existing name is not good practice. the second concerns the lack of cited references concerning fisheries biology and aquaculture techniques for the various species presented in the guide. Nearly all references given in the guide are taxonomic in nature, and although the primary role of this guide is identification, it would have been helpful to provide some primary sources of information concerning fisheries and/or aquaculture.

Other details that might be considered for a second imprint of this guide is the addition of the neritid gastropod Nerita lineata (otherwise known as N. birmanica, N. articulata or N. balteata), this species being one of the commonest snails in Malayan mangroves, and consumed by the local coastal population. Nowhere in this guide is it mentioned. Neither is the bivalve Orbicularia orbiculata (Pharidae, formerly in Psammobiidae) for which is a significant fishery exists in Malaysia. The patellogastropod genus Cellana is now placed in the family Nacellidar, following current taxonomic opinion.

Poutier's contribution is a welcome addition to the increasing number of illustrated guides to the molluscan fauna of the Indo-Pacific. While reliable identification aids are available for molluscan fauna in Japan, the Philippines, Java, Australia and New Caledonia, the fauna characteristics of the Malayan archipelago has not been the subject of taxonomic guide books. Although this guide describes only a small fraction of bivalves and gastropods found in the Indo-Pacific, it includes a fair number of species that are treated in detail for the first time. This FAO guide will take its place amongst the useful "must-haves" in the libraries of professional biologists as well as shell enthusiasts.

K.S. Tan
Tropical Marine Science Institute
National University of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol 48(2): 340 on 31 Dec 2000.

"Tropical Island Herpetofauna: Origin, Current Diversity, and Conservation" by Ota. Hidetoshi (Editor) (1999).

Elsevier, Amsterdam, xiv + 353 pp. ISBN 0-444-50195-9.

A good number of tropical islands have enjoyed basking in the attention afforded them from herpetologists. Their potentially high biodiversity, variable land area above water, variable distance from mainland, variable topography are ideal ingredients for attempts at answering biogeographical, evolutionary and ecological question. In June 1998, the International Symposium, "Diversity of Reptiles, Amphibians, and other Terrestrial Animals on Tropical Islands: Origin, Current Status, and Conservation", was held at the University of the Ryukus, Okinawa, Japan. A total of 15 papers, organised into three parts, were compiled in the proceedings.

Adapted from Best Book Buys, accessed on 27th Jun 2007.

There are four papers in Part I, "Origin and Taxonomic Diversity", with contributions by Aaron Bauer - high endemism (86%) in terrestrial lizards of New Caledonia, Ilya Darevsky - lizards and snakes from nine Vietnamese islands, Indraneil Das amphibian and reptile biogeography of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, James Lazell - herpetofaunal evolution of South China continental shelf islands. Comprehensive species checklists are included in the first three, with endemic species marked with asterisks. In Part II. "Ecological Diversity, Dispersal, and Conservation", the papers are more specialised, but give an insight into some lesser known species. For example, Akira Mori et al. reveal the stealthy feeding behaviour of a Colubrid snake on sea turtle eggs and hatchlings. Using molecular biology techniques, Christopher Austin examined island colonization by a Scincid lizard in Melanesia. Also looking at colonization questions is Ivan Ineich, who studied ectodermal parasites of Pacific island geekos. In Part III, "Biogeography of the Ryuku Herpetofauna", the focus is on amphibia and reptilia from the Ryuku Archipelago. Taxa discussed in the papers include: Eumeces skinks, Trimeresurus pit vipers, geoemydine turtles, the cosmopolitan frog Rana limnocharis and the feral soft-shelled turtle Pelodiscus sinensis. At the end of the book (pp. 335-353), a comprehensive Taxonomic and Geographic Index is provided. This facilitates quick referrals to all the taxa and localities discussed among all the papers.

Without a doubt, this book deserves a place in the shelves of science/natural history libraries at established tertiary institutions/museums. Although other exciting herpetological topics, such as bioacoustics or amphibian larvae were not covered in the book, both practicing and potential herpetologists based in the tropics will find a stimulating variety of ideas and avenues for further research. In his abstract, James Lazell, contributor in Part I, noted, "there are more than a thousand small islands, most as yet unexplored by herpetologists. The opportunity to discover many more endemics and relicts is wonderfully great". That should be sufficient to whet our appetites for an island "getaway".

Tzi Ming Leong
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge 119260, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 48(2): 339 on 31 Dec 2000.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Forest (and) primates. Conservation and ecology of the endemic primates of Java and Borneo" by Nijman, V. (2001)

Kalimantan Series 5. Publisher: Tropenbos International, The Netherlands. 232pp. ISBN: 90-5113-052-X. Price: EUR 20 (S18 US). Order online at or write to Tropenbos International. PO Box 232. NL 6700. AE Wageningen. The Netherlands. E-mail:

The Sundaic region, identified as one of the biodiversity hotspots on earth, ranks highly in endemism of its flora and fauna in comparison to other regions. It also harbours a disproportionately large number of primate species and endemics, some 28 in all. Unlike the Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), an urban survivor, most primates are confined or linked to natural forests. Unfortunately, the Sundaic region also ranks highly for loss of primary forest cover. Thus most, if not all, Sundaic primate endemics are threatened with extinction.

Adapted from Tropenbos International on 28th Jun 2007.

The focal area of this study, Java and Borneo, comprise more than half of the land surface of the Sundaic region. Java has a history of human pressure dating several centuries; little forest remains now and the people are no longer largely dependent on the forest. Contrastingly, the largely forest-covered Borneo is undergoing rapid changes in land-use and human attitudes, which alter the pressures on wildlife populations.

It is surprising to read the claim that " there is a lack of base line knowledge concerning the ecology of most, if not all, endemic primates in Indonesia", considering that easily more than 200 papers have been published on Indonesian primates. Furthermore, amongst the endemics of Java and Borneo, only one is listed as "Data Deficient". Certainly primates have attracted much more attention than the secretive carnivore family groups!

However, Nijman suggests that most long-term primatological studies in Southeast Asia have been concentrated at a limited number of field stations. These are located mainly in relatively pristine habitats, in areas with limited or no hunting pressure, almost entirely in the lowlands and where populations of the study species are present in relatively high densities. Furthermore, while the effect of disturbances (e.g. selective logging, hunting and fire) on primate populations have been studied in isolation, in reality, they appear to be tightly linked.

It is thus now necessary to build on these foundation studies to provide for practical conservation measures. This thesis is an example of such a step. Between 1994 and 2001, various field studies were conducted in Java, Borneo and in museum. This thesis integrates the contents of papers published earlier in scientific journals with other authors. It presents the reader with several objectives: (i) to assess the geographical distribution of individual species on Java and Borneo; (ii) to develop, test and evaluate census methods by which primate populations can be assessed and monitored: (iii) to determine the type and magnitude of the threats facing the individual species and habitats on the islands: (iv) using data collected under (i), (ii) and (iii), to re-assess the conservation status of the endemic primates of Java and Borneo using the IUCN threat criteria; and subsequently (v) to identify key areas for conservation based on densities of particular primate species, the co-existence of a disproportional large subset of primate species and management feasibility.

The chapters in this book are:
1. Forest and primates, a general introduction to the conservation of endemic primates in the Sundaic region.

SECTION I. Background and Survey Methodology: 2. Density and biomass estimates of gibbons (Hylobates maelleri) in Bornean rainforest: a comparison of techniques (with Steph B. J. Menken). 3. Effects of behavioural changes due to habitat disturbance on density estimation of rain forest vertebrates, as illustrated by gibbons (Primates: Hylobatidae). 4. Calling behaviour of wild Javan gibbons Hylobates moloch in Java, Indonesia (with Thomas Geissmann). 5. Geographical variation in pelage characteristics in grizzled leaf monkey Presbytis comata (Desmarest, 1822) (Mammalia: Primates: Cercopithecidae).

SECTION II: Studies on Endemic Primates of Java: 6. Occurrence and distribution of grizzled leaf monkey Presbytis comata (Desmarest, 1822) (Mammalia: Primates: Cercopithecidae) on Java, Indonesia. 7. Geographical distribution of ebony leaf monkey Trachypithecus auratus (Geoffrey Saint Hilaire, 1812) (Mammalia: Primates: Cercopithecidae). 8. A faunal survey of the Dieng mountains, Central Java, Indonesia: status and distribution of endemic primate taxa (with S. (Bas) van Balen).

SECTION III: Studies on Endemic Primates of Borneo. 9. Distribution and conservation of the proboscis monkey Naasalis larvatus in Kalimantan, Indonesia (with Erik Meijoard). 10. The local extinction of the proboscis monkey Nasalis larvatus in Pulau Kaget Nature Reserve, Indonesia (with Erik Meijaard). 11. Patterns of primate diversity on Borneo and selection of priority areas for conservation (with Erik Meijoard).

SECTION IV: Synthesis: 12. Re-assessment of IUCN conservation status of the endemic primates of Java and Borneo. 13. General discussion.

Forests and primates face tough times. Indonesia's recent policy of decentralization had provided opportunities for illegal logging (Kearney, 2001; Richardson, 2001). However, in October 2001, Indonesia instituted an indefinite ban on the export of logs in line with a recommendation made by an International Timber Trade Organisation (ITTO) Mission in the country, which had found illegal logging to be rampant there (ITTO, 2001).

It is likely thought that Java's history of deforestation will repeat itself on the other Sundaic islands and possibly other parts of Southeast Asia with growing human populations, all of which are host to much higher numbers of primate species. The findings and conclusions of the present study are thus applicable to the conservation of Southeast Asian primates and should be read by workers in tropical forest conservation and management, primate rehabilitation, captive breeding and ecology.

This fifth book in the Tropenbos-Kalimantan series is also the first zoological title. The publisher, Tropenbos International, is a Dutch non-governmental organization, facilitating research and development programes in Asian and Africa. In Southeast Asia, it is also developing research in Vietnam.

Richardson. M. 2001. Indonesia's Forests: Gone in 10 Years?
International Herald Tribune,
24 April 2001.

Kearney. M. 2001. Illegal logging in national parks shocks minister.
The Straits Times, 24 April 2001.

ITTO. 2001. ITTO Mission recommended Indonesian Log Export
ITTO press release, 30 October 2001.

N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 383-384 on 31 Dec 2001.

"A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Malaysia and Singapore" by Strange, M. (2000)

Periplus. Singapore. 398 pp. ISBN 962-593-963-6.

There are numerous field guides available n the market on the birds of Southeast Asia. The question arises in my mind: do we need another bird guide for Southeast Asia? The answer in my mind is yes but only if such a guide is illustrated with excellent photographs. Well this book fills the bill. The author who is famous for his breathtaking bird pictures writes this photographic guide.

Adapted from Princeton University Press on 27 Jun 2007.

The book provides succinct introduction to the bird watching techniques. The introduction also contains beside other aspects, brief notes on Southeast Asian bird fauna, its habitats, and conservation.

Over six hundred bird species are covered in this book. Each species account includes a photograph (sometimes two) of the species. Most photographs contain diagnostic features of the bird. Included in the species description is a brief write-up of the diagnostic morphological features of the species of all the species is indicated and so is the worldwide range. However, only the distribution within Southeast Asia is illustrated with a map.

With few exceptions, most of the photographs are of exceptional high quality. Somehow, the guide feels much better to use in the field and different than the previous other guides in the market. The glossy production of the book is of high quality.

I recommend this book to amateur and professional bird watchers alike. I know that I will be bringing it along for my future birding trips within Southeast Asia.

Navjot S. Sodhi
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S2. 14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 382 on 31 Dec 2001.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Indonesia" by Strange. M. (2001)

Periplus, Singapore, 416 pp. ISBN 962-593-402-2.

At last, the Indonesian birds can be compiled in one field guide gathering field guides on the Birds of Sumatra. Java, Bali and Kalimantan, Birds of Wallacea and Birds of New Guinea. This is another book dedicated to the geographical region. It may also be used as a complement to Birding Indonesia edited by Paul Jepson and Rosie Ounsted and produced by the same publisher in 1997. Despite its size and weight, it is suitable for being carried away to the field.

Morten Strange has had close association with Indonesia over 20 years. He travelled all over the country to obtain the photographs of many bird species that had never been photographed especially those distributed only in Nusa Tenggara and Irian Jaya/West Irian. He showed his master in photography by illustrating most of the species taken by him though he was assisted by other 35 photographers to complete the book. The author has written the Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore (1993) and the Photographic Guide to the Birds of South East Asia including Phillippines and Borneo (2000).

The book basically contains three main sections: introduction, how to use this book and systematic section. This introduction is very comprehensive and detailed. Terminology and names used in the book are clearly explained. However there is an inconsistency in the explanation of some terminology, e.g. the term of Sunda in the "How to use this Book" section is different from the Glossary. One spelling mistake of the scientific name of the Blue Nuthatch, should be Sitta azurea not Sitta azyea.

It provides some tips on birding techniques, photographing birds, documentation, information on habitats, birding time, interesting places for birding and conservation concerns. The section how to use this book explains the area covered, the nomenclature, taxonomy and sequence applied including some important references and guidance for the systematic section. The systematics section illustrates the species with coloured photograph, short description, information on voice and habitats as well as a map of distribution. For some dimorphic species, photographs of both sexes are shown.

There are 1534 bird species recorded in Indonesian region. This book presents 686 species or less 50% of total species. Each species is well described with brief information on voice and sufficient behaviour notes for field observation. Since the book is heavily relied on coloured photographs for species identification, we were a bit disappointed with their uneven quality. Some photographs (such as on pages 68, 70, 77, 145, 175, 176, 191, 283, 289, 296, 305, 322, 359 and 375) have poor quality and are less detailed, they could not be used properly for identification as the book intended to be.

Although it was mentioned that most photographs were taken on location in Indonesia or South East Asia, the photograph of Grey teal Anas gibberifrons was taken in Australian region because it is less accurate. The Indonesian (Sunda) grey teal has a prominent forehead which is distinctive from the Australian Grey Teal.

The book covers 87 out of 93 families and 130 out of 381 endemic species.

The inclusion of map of distribution is very useful. Because Indonesian region has the highest number of endemic species, the map really helps to find specific locations for interesting species. We were a bit surprised when seeing the map of the Brahminy Kite (Haliastar indus). The author eliminates the presence of the species on Java island. Actually, last year we found an active nest of this species with two chicks in the mangrove of North Coast of Banten.

After all, we recommend the book to be used by beginners or professional bird watchers for observing the Indonesian birds. The concise text provides vital information that will ensure identification of some species in one of the world's most diverse avifauna regions. We appreciate all efforts of the author to produce such comprehensive photographs of the birds such as the Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot (Micropsitta brnijnii), the Wallace's Hanging-parrot (Loriculus flosculus) and the Moluccan Hanging-parrot (L. amabilis).

Dewi M. Prawiradilaga and Darjono
Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense.
Research Centre for Biology-LIPI
Jalan Raya Bogor Km 46, Cibinong 16911, Indonesia

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 381-382 on 31 Dec 2001.

"Freshwater Fishes of the Timika Region New Guinea" by Allen. G. R., K. G. Hortle & S. J. Renyaan. (2000)

P. T. Freeport Indonesia and tropical Reef Research. viii +175 pp. ISBN 0-646-40480-6.

This is the first book in a series of field guides to the biodiversity of the Timika Region of southern Indonesian New Guinea. The Timika Region lies between the Otakwa and Mamoa river basins, and the Central Dividing Range in the interior. According to the authors, the fish fauna there was virtually unknown until Freeport Indonesia's Environmental Laboratory began its quarterly sampling program there in 1995.

The taxonomy is up-to-date as first author Dr. Gerald Allen is an internationally recognised authority on both freshwater and coral reed fishes of the Australian-New Guinea region. In this comprehensive guide, 93 native species and five feral species of freshwater fish are presented. Two of the native species are new to science. The formal descriptions of the apogonid Glossamia timika and eleotrid Oxyeleotris stagnicola, appended at the rear end of the book do not interfere wit the flow of the book's concise format.

Each species is illustrated with their English and scientific names, a diagnosis that highlights the more important characters including succinct descriptions of colour and markings. There are brief comments on the fish's habitat and abundance, followed by notes on their distribution in New Guinea. These notes are illustrated on a map of New Guinea on the top right hand corner of the page. A list of local names is also provided.

Good pictures and accurate illustrations of entire fish are arguable the quickest and most reliable tool to identify the various types of fishes, and this is adequately furnished for each and every species in this guide. Many species are illustrated in life with excellent photographs. Where good photographs are wanting, line drawings and paintings made by Australian artists Jill Ruse and Roger Swainston are effective substitutes.

Apart from the illustrations, the user can also refer to keys that highlight important morphological and meristic characters. There is a key that differentiates the 27 families of indigenous and five families of introduced feshwater fish in the area. If more than one species is present in a family, a key to the different species in that group is provided.

This book certainly lives up to its design as a quick identification guide to the freshwater fishes of the Timika region. It is a good reference for anyone who is generally interested in fishes, and/or the biodiversity of the Australia-New Guinea region.

Kelvin K. P. Lim
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 380-381 on 31 Dec 2001.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Freshwater Fishes of Northern Vietnam" by Kottelat. M. (2001)

Freshwater Fishes of Northern Vietnam. A preliminary check-list of the fishes known or expected to occur in northern Vietnam with comments on systematics and nomenclature. Kottelat. M., 2001.Environment and Social Development Unit. East Asia and Pacific region, The World Bank, 123 pp. 162 figs.

This book reports on two surveys conducted in 1998 and 1999, of which the latter was curtailed. This is the first systematics report published by the Environment and Social Development Unit of the World Bank. It is divided into two parts: the first part consists of a preliminary checklist of the fishes known or expected to occur in northern Vietnam; and the second part (in three annexes) deals with some important but poorly known Vietnamese freshwater fish literature. This report also highlights the critical situation of biological research in the Indochinese region and just after the Vietnam War.

Two hundred and sixty-eight native freshwater fish species are reported in the preliminary checklist. Re-evaluation of the systematics status and nomenclature of these species is carried out, albeit without actual examination of specimens in some cases. The nomenclatural actions and changes made, and a comparative list of fish names used in the current report and by Mai (1978) are summarised in two separate tables. This report also contributes significantly to comforting the nomenclature of the northern Vietnamese and southern Chinese fishes to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.

In Annex 1, selected parts of a report by Mai (1978) are translated into English and presented with no alteration. This section is rather confusing due to the lack of consistency of legend used. In Annex 2, problems with the nomenclatural system for Vietnamese freshwater fishes proposed by Nguyen & Daon (1969), and the validity of that publication are raised, although no clear solution is suggested. The original paper by Nguyen & Daon (1969) is reproduced in Annex 3.

The last part of the report features well-taken photographs of the fishes (162 figures) encountered mainly from the 1999 trip. There are some minor errors in the figure captions - misspelling of names in Fig. 71 (Balitora kwangsiensis); and wrong genera names for Fig. 78 (Beaufortia daon) and Fig. 103 (Hemibagrus plariradiatus). Some of the material listed is available only from the figures provided, which is a pity. This minor point aside, this is a very important effort and an important piece of work for ichthyologists working on the freshwater fishes of so Southeast Asia.

Mai. D. Y., 1978 Nha xuat Ban Khoa Hoc Va Ky Thuat, Ha Noi [Identification of freshwater fishes of northern Viet Nam]. 339 pp. [In Vietnamese].

Nguyen V. H. & L. Doan. 1969. Mot so dan lieu ve Thanh, nguon goe va su phan bo cac loai trong ho ca chep o mien bac Vietnam [Some data on composition, origin, and distribution of cyprinid species in northern Vietnam]. Trinh bay tai hoi nghi hoc thuat nganh thuy san lan thu 1 [First Scientific Seminar of Fisheries Division]. 19 pp. [In Vietnamese].

Tan Heok Hui
Department of Biological Sciences,
The National University of Singapore.
Blk S2, 14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 380 on 31 Dec 2001.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"The Natural History Journal of Chulalongkorn University" (2001)

The Natural History Museum of Chulalongkorn University. Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. ISSN 1513-9700.

This new journal is the official publication of the Natural History Museum of Chulalongkorn University. Bangkok, Thailand. It boasts a strong editorial board consisting of members from Chulalongkorn and Mahidol Universities, and National Science Museum in Thailand, as well as overseas institutions such as Field Museum of Natural History, University of Michigan (both USA, National University of Singapore (Singapore), and University of the Rykyus (Japan), most of whom have been actively researching and publishing on various aspects of natural history in Thailand for many years. The Editor is Somasak Panha ( of the Chulalongkorn University.

The inaugural issue (August 2001, volume 1, Number 1) of this biannual publication features 11 papers divided among three sections: "Original Articles", "Reviews" and "Short Notes". "Original Articles" covers taxonomy and diversity (e.g. new species descriptions; new records; morphological, karyological and allozymic studies), and histological studies, while synopses and species checklists are published under "Reviews". Study subjects in this first issue include insects, molluscs, herptiles and fishes, mostly from Thailand.

For now, the journal appears to primarily focus on biodiversity-related studies in Thailand, which is very useful indeed, considering the significant amount of such research being conducted there. However, his scope can and probably will expand to include the rest of Indochina, thus addressing the need for wider dissemination of the results of biodiversity studies conducted in neighbouring Indochinese countries, and perhaps even from southern China. Coupled with the forthcoming addition of more scientists to its editorial board, and the setting up of its own website (S. Panha. pers. comm.), the journal will surely grow in importance and stature.

Annual cost of overseas membership and subscriptions are US$30 (individual), US$20 (student) or US$40 (institute). Requests for application forms or author instructions can be sent to: "The Natural History Journal of Chulalongkorn University. Bangkok 10330. THAILAND": Tel. +(662)218-5258-9; Fax. +(662)218-5386.

Darren C. J. Yeo
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in the Raffles Museum Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 379 on 31 Dec 2001.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"Chek Jawa. Discovering Singapore's Biodiversity" by Chua, E. K. (2002)

Simply Green. 116 pp. USD 20. ISBN 981 046814 8. Tien Wah Press (Pte) Ltd.

Pulau Ubin is a small island of about 10km by 2km off the northeast coast of Singapore's main island. It is a special place for Singaporeans and visitors alike, having escaped the bustling growth of the city-state, and provides an impression of a way of life, long lost on mainland Singapore. However, in 2001, the island awaited an impending fate of reclamation of its eastern and southern coastlines. Villagers living in the area had been gradually shifted out and few remains of the buildings they occupied could even be seen. The now ghostly coastline however, provided complete access to curious nature enthusiasts who had previously stayed away from the private property of the villagers.

They stumbled onto a goldmine. This small coastal area boasted of several ecosystems in one site -coastal forest, mangrove, rocky shore, sandy shore, seagrass lagoon, mud flats and coral rubble. To a population more familiar with sterile beaches, it was an explosion of marine life -tunicates, sponges, sea cucumbers, sea stars, a variety of molluscs, seagrass, the list seemingly just went on. The visual splendour of the site, its uniqueness and impending extinction inspired an explosion of activity on its behalf by nature lovers, educators, researchers, the media, public and the government. In a landmark decision, the reclamation of scheduled for Pulau Ubin was deferred, and Chek Jawa was saved for the interim at least.

Dr. Chua Be Kiam was amongst those inspired by the variety, space, stories and secrets of the area. Like many naturalists in Singapore, he was familiar with the pockets of terrestrial biodiversity on the mainland. He had in fact popularised such areas by authoring two photo-history titles, entitled "Nature in Singapore -Ours to Protect" (1993) and "Pulau Ubin - Ours to Treasure" (2001) (see http:// A dentist by profession, he is a passionate nature photographer and nature conservationist, and communicates this through his images in books and by guiding and giving talks. This passion is obvious through the photographs and emotive writing of the book.

The contents are arranged somewhat into chapters. "Discovering Chek Jawa" is a brief account of the events leading to the eventual deferment of reclamation. Little of the complex series of events has been shared with the public and this is a good introduction to an important event in Singapore's history. "Heaven on Earth" provides an overview of the habitats and brief contributions about most of the ecosystems, and marine life is explored through the main plant and animal groups in " Fascinating gems of Chek Jawa". The author's suggestions about education and tourism are raised in "What next?" and "Voices from within" is a sheet of quotations by various people. The various affiliations and more so the lack of affiliation of the various people who are quoted reflect the diverse interest that Chek Jawa summoned to her eventual relief. "The plight and fragility" and "The last horizon" are reflective pieces on issues facing the urbanised Singaporean, and the significance of Chek Jawa.

This book does not pretend to be an authoritative marine guide but is instead, a reflection of the author's exploration of coastal ecosystems through the gift of Chek Jawa. However, even scientists will find the photos surprising and interesting. In a very short time, he has provided a glimpse into a significant event and place. Yet again he provides a refreshing story celebrating discovery and protection of a natural habitat in Singapore.

Proceeds of this book will be donated to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research for ongoing research at Chek Jawa. The sale of the book at the museum is also helping to fund its workshop series to train new volunteer guides for Chek Jawa, at which the author volunteers as a principal field instructor.

N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge, 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 50(2): 514-515 on 31 Dec 2002.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Freshwater Fishes of Timika Regin New Guinea" by Allen. G. R., K. G. Hortle & S. J. Renyaan (2000)

P. T. Freeport Indonesia and Tropical Reef Research. viii + 175 pp. ISBN 0-646-40480-6.

This is the first book in a series of field guides to the biodiversity of the Timika Region of southern Indonesian New Guinea. The Timika Region lies between the Otakwa and Mamoa river basins, and the Central Dividing Range in the interior. According to the authors, the fish fauna there wewas virtually unknown until Freeport Indonesia's Environmental Laboratory began its quarterly sampling program there in 1995.

The taxonomy is up-to-date as first author Dr. Gerald Allen is an international recognised authority on both freshwater and coral reef fishes of the Australia-New Guinea region. In this comprehensive guide, 93 native species and five feral species of freshwater fish are presented. Two of the native species are new to science. The formal descriptions of the apogonid Glossamia timika and eleotrid Oxyeleotris stagnicola. appended at the rear end of the book do not interfere with the flow of the book's concise format.

Each species is illustrated with their English and scientific names, a diagnosis that highlights the more important characters including succinct descriptions of colour and markings. There are brief comments on the fish's habitat and abundance, followed by notes on their distribution in New Guinea. These notes are illustrated on a map of New Guinea on the top right hand corner of the page. A list of local names is also provided.

Good pictures and accurate illustrations of entire fish are arguably the quickest and most reliable tool to identify the various types of fishes, and this is adequately furnished for each and every species in this guide. Many species are illustrated in life with excellent photographs. Where good photographs are wanting, line drawings and paintings made by Australian artists Jill Ruse and Roger Swainston are effective substitutes.

Apart from illustrations, the user can also refer to keys that highlight important morphologic and meristic characters. There is a key that differentiates the 27 families of indigenous and five families of introduced freshwater fish in the area. If more than one species is present in a family, a key to the different species in that group is provided.

This book certainly lives up to its design as a quick identification guide to the freshwater fishes of the Timika region. It is a good reference for anyone who is generally interested in fishes, and/or the biodiversity of the Australia-New Guinea region.

Kelvin K. P. Lim
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 49(2): 380-381 on 31 Dec 2001.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"An updated classification of the recent Crustacea" by Martin, J. W. & G. E. Davis. (2001)

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series 39, 124 pp. ISSN 1-891276-27-1. US $20. Orders to K. Victoria Brown, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007, USA; e-mail:

When Joel W. Martin and George E. Davis decided to newly arrange the crustacean collection of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Museum, they did not do it the easy way, which would have been to base their arrangement on the most recent published overview of crustacean families from Bowman & Abele (1982). Instead, they undertook a major (and courageous) task: they decided to gather all the available knowledge on higher crustacean systematics and compile it afresh in "an updated classification of the recent Crustacea", For this purpose, they confronted 102 specialists of different crustacean taxa with several drafts of a revised classification, and collected and assimilated their opinions (whenever possible) into a complete document. Not only will the crustacean collection of the Los Angeles Museum benefit from this exhaustive work, but the entire crustacean scientific community should acknowledge this effort. It is no surprise that after 20 years of worldwide taxonomic and systematic research, and with new molecular methods being implemented in systematics, a large number of new insights and systematic changes have been introduced to crustacean classification since Bowman & Abele's (1982) key compilation. However, as already pointed out by the authors, the crustaceans are a very diverse group and most taxonomists working on them are only specialists for small selected groups. Therefore, most of them are not aware of the changes that have occurred in other crustacean groups, and a review of the classification in the form of the present study was much needed. As a result, almost 200 more families appear in this work than in Bowman & Abele's (1982) classification, giving us an overall total of 849 extant crustacean families.

The title of the book is somewhat overstated in that the "updated classification of the recent Crustacea" does not include all taxonomic levels of the Crustacea. The classification does not go below the level of family for any of the taxa included. This, however, is understandable, considering that most previous revisions were also restricted to the suprageneric level and higher. Thus including more detailed taxonomic treatments would have meant starting from scratch for most of the groups. We also have to keep in mind that in all revisions, authors must draw a line somewhere in order to complete the task without getting lost in too much detail and getting mired in ongoing developments. The inclusion of all subfamilies and genera would have increased the necessary amount of work (as well as the controversies among specialists) exponentially and made a publication unrealistic. With 124 pages, this compilation is already much more extensive than Bowman & Abele's (1982), which consisted of only 27 pages. Finally, the acceptance and success of a systematic scheme will always depend on its scientific longevity, and it is evident that all systematic classifications are much less stable at the generic level than at higher taxonomic levels.

After a general introduction, the authors define their methods and dedicate a few paragraphs to some of the methods that have contributed to the new insights used for the updated classification of Crustacea: cladistics, molecular systematics, sperm morphology, larval morphology, and the fossil record. The "Rationale" starts with a discussion of general questions concerning the monophyly of the Crustacea, the total number of classes and their relationships. However, its main purpose is to introduce briefly the higher crustacean taxa, the most important problems concerning their classification, and diverging opinions on their systematics. This is the section wherein the authors justify why they selected the classifications that they present in the following section, and what possible alternative classifications could be considered. Naturally, there are different opinions on the classification of almost all crustacean taxa. Therefore, in many cases the authors had to compromise between different specialists' opinions, having been accused by some of favouring different systematic philosophies and approaches as noted in their concluding remarks (p. 57). We should not forget, however, that higher systematics must still be regarded a theoretical science and is mostly meant as a framework for presenting assumed phylogenetic relationships. As long as we do not have a full understanding of these phylogenetic relationships (i.e., always), everyone has the right to propose and employ different higher classification systems, which after all are little more than subjective "working hypotheses" or "models" based on the available knowledge. Consequently, Martin & Davis also had to review a vast number of systematic theories and findings in order to finally propose "their" classification on the basis of synthesis, consensus, and judgement calls. While no one should begrudge these authors for the decisions they had to make, the nature of these circumstances are such that many specialists will have some major or minor objections to varied aspects of the classification as presented in this study. Martin & Davis at very least do justice to diverging opinions by dedicating a special chapter (Appendix I) of their paper for publication of varied opinions by colleagues, each opinion classified by taxonomic group. This is a very fair and useful strategy that allows one to recognize where some of the disagreements center in the ongoing search for the best systematic system. Unfortunately, these comments refer to only a penultimate draft of the classification, and therefore it is not always immediately clear whether the concerns of the contributors have been met and whether their views have been adopted.

The third appendix is dedicated to a list of other crustacean resources, which includes journals, newsletters, and specialised web sites. This is certainly of great use for everyone who would like to follow new results and insights of crustacean research as well as to keep up with future discussions concerning crustacean systematics and classification. The cited literature of approximately 900 references is very much up to date, often also including unpublished results from recent scientific meetings. In one case, the anticipated taxonomic change even predated the official publication. The description of the Glyptograpsidae Schubart, Felder & Cuesta was published in 2002 and not in 2001 as stated in Martin & Davis. However, since their first official mention of the taxon does not include a description, the name used in the classification is a nomen nudum, and only becomes valid with the original description by Schubart et al. (2002).

Overall, this classification will turn out to be extremely useful to all those working with crustaceans, not only in systematics, but also in all other fields of biological sciences. All researchers and readers of scientific studies should be informed about the current knowledge concerning the systematic placement of the organisms under study. The authors deserve much credit for gathering all this information, and for providing us with such an important tool for future studies. Of course, there will soon be more new evidence and ensuing taxonomic change that will outdate some of the classifications as presented, but for the moment we have a new basis on which to build and add future insights. I hope that not longer than in another 20 years time, a similarly motivated team of researchers will provide us with the next updated classification of the Crustacea.

Bowman, T. E. & L. G. Abele, 1982. Classification of the Recent Crustacea. In: Abele, L. G. (ed.), Systematics, the fossil record, and biogeography, vol. I of Bliss, D. E. (ed.), The Biology of Crustacea. New York, Academic Press. pp. 1-27.

I, Schubart, C. D., J. A. Cuesta & D. L. Felder, 2002. Glyptograpsidae, a new brachyuran family from central America: larval and adult morphology, and a molecular phylogeny of the grapsoidea. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 22(1): 28-44.

Christoph D. Schubart I
Biology 1
University of Regensburg
93040 Regensburg, Germany.

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol 50(1): 279-280 on 30 Jun 2002.

"Asia Pacific Reef Guide" by Debelius. H. (2001)

IKAN - Unterwasserarchiv, Frankfurt. 321 pp. Without ISBN number.

'Asia Pacific Reef Guide' concentrates on selected marine fauna of the Western Central Pacific area that includes Malaysia and Indonesia in the south, the Gulf of Thailand, the coastal waters of Vietnam and China in the west; and Japanese coral reefs in the East China Sea southwards of 30 degrees north. To the east, its covers the Philippine Archipelago and the oceanic islands of Ogasawara, Yap and Palau, which are popular diving destinations. This book is intended to replace 'Southeast Asia Tropical Fish Guide' in the same richly illustrated series that ran out of print two years ago.

The author designed this book as a guide not only to fish, but also to other groups of mostly reef-dwelling marine life 'that are more likely to attract the interest of divers and snorkellers'. Even though bony fishes cover about three-quarters of the volume, reptiles, crustaceans, and molluscs are also prominently featured. Considerably less extensive coverage are given to cnidarians, flatworms, polychaete worms, echinoderms, and ascidians. Each species is illustrated with at least a colour photograph, and accompanied by a short text that identifies the animal with its currently used scientific names, and specifies the size, distribution, and depth where the animal is usually encountered. This is followed by general comments such as that of diagnostic characters, similar species, ontogenetic changes, and whether it is harmful to humans, or otherwise heavily exploited by the latter.

Inserted at intervals throughout the book are twenty picture stories from the Asia-Pacific region written by the author and various underwater photographers. Some of these highlight interesting animal behaviour, and how animals interact with other species and their environment. Others show how man has excessively exploited many marine creatures, and cause damage to the marine environment in the process.

This book is recommended as a field guide, but to some it may be too glossy and expensive to be used outdoors. On the bookshelf at home, it makes a handsome addition. It is a pleasure simply to flip through its pages, for it contains an outstanding collection of very attractive and superbly printed pictures, almost all taken in the wild.

On most instances, the location of each picture is indicated. However, the pictures supposedly taken in Singapore on pages 81, 99, 170, and 217 are open to doubt. Not only are the waters of all the shots unusually clear for Singapore's standards, the fishes -Epinephelus flavocaeruleus, Apogon aureus, Cirrhitops fasciatus and Acanthurus olivaceus would otherwise be new records for the country.

Kelvin K. P. Lim
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol 50(1): 278 on 30 Jun 2002.

"Fishes of Laos" by Kottelat, M. (2001)

Fishes of Laos. Kotte1at, M., 2001. WHT Publications (Pte) Ltd, Sri Lanka. 198 pp. ISBN 955-9114-25-5.

The fish fauna of the Lao People's Democratic Republic consists of primary freshwater varieties and euryhaline species that can live for extended periods in freshwater. Most of Laos is drained by the Mekong basin, and none of the country's boundaries is anywhere near the sea. This book reports on 481 species of fish from the country, a dramatic increase from 210 species known in 1975. The author himself recorded more than 100 species for the first time in the past six years while doing fieldwork for this book. It is of interest to note that loaches of the genus Schistura are incredibly diverse there. With 57 species, they make up over 10% of the country's fish fauna. Many of them are also endemic to Laos.

All species of fish recorded to date from Laos are illustrated, and their diagnostic characters are provided in the book. Information on the geographic distribution, habitats, and previous misidentifications is also included for every species. Although English vernacular names are provided for the families, species nomenclature is restricted to scientific names. This is because most of the species have no English or even Laotian names. Most of the local vernacular names are used only in a given region and are unknown elsewhere; or the same name is used for different species in different areas. The scientific name of each species is the latest one known to the author, but older names and synonyms, where present, are listed as well.

The fauna is presented in phylogenetic order, but the level of classification only goes as high as family. Identification keys are included for all families with several genera. The picture and text of each species are correspondingly numbered, and both sets can easily be traced to each other. It would have been more convenient for the user if all pictures and text are on pages facing each other, but this will probably be too troublesome to format.

Even though the book lacks pictures of live fish in their natural habitat, most of thephotographs feature fresh and well-preserved specimens that accurately depict their general appearance and colour markings. They should enable anyone to identify the fishes in the quickest way, even without reading the text. Also useful are the simple line drawings that are distributed throughout the book. By no means works of art, they, nevertheless, clearly and effectively illustrate morphological characters that may not be adequately described in words.

This book is designed as a tool for the education of the Lao people on the fish diversity of their country. It is also a comprehensive reference for anyone interested in the fish fauna of the Indochinese region thanks to its extensive list of literature references. It serves its intended purpose as a practical guide to the fishes of Laos most admirably for it is not bulky or pretty enough to stop many people from using it in the field.

Kelvin K. P. Lim
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 50(1): 277 on 30 Jun 2002.

"Proceedings of the International Conference on In-situ and Ex- situ Biodiversity Conservation in the New Millennium" by Yaacob, Z., et. al. (2001)

Yayasan Sabah/Innoprise Corporation Sdn. Bhd. & Sabah Museum. ix + 447pp. ISBN 983-808-152-3.

This is a compilation of papers and abstracts of posters presented at the International Conference on In-situ and Ex-situ Biodiversity Conservation in the New Millennium that was held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, from 20th to 22nd June 2000.

The bulk of this publication consists of 31 papers and 19 abstracts of poster presentations covering a variety of biodiversity conservation and management topics. These range from broad- based strategic conservation issues to specific research projects, and are grouped into six sections. The first section, "Conservation of Biodiversity In-situ and Ex-situ", features two keynote papers, "Protected Areas In The New Millennium: Challenges And Opportunities" and "Development And Future Direction Of Biodiversity Collections In Southeast Asia". These set the stage for the rest of the proceedings by providing respective overviews of in- situ and ex-situ approaches to biodiversity conservation.

The remaining papers are organised into the five other sections, viz., "The Importance of Conservation Management of Protected Areas in the New Millennium"; "The Uses of Biodiversity Collections in Taxonomic, Ecological and Environmental Research"; "Managing Protected Areas: Priorities, National Planning and Networking"; "Research in Molecular Systematics of Biodiversity and Local Needs in Southeast Asia"; and "Conservation and Public Participation". Below are some examples of the included papers:

-"The Management Of Protected Areas In Sabah": A summary of the major protected areas in Sabah, the various agencies that manage them, and the legal framework and management approaches used as of the year 2000.

-"Botanical Collections In The Malesian Region -What Has Been Found, Where Is It And Where To Collect In The Future" and "The Role Of Sabah' s Zoological Collections In The Conservation Of Protected Areas In Sabah": These papers explain the rationale behind making scientific collections and the value of specimens as permanent records in support of biodiversity conservation research. They also cite several floral and faunal examples in highlighting the paucity of collections in Southeast Asia, and the continuing need for scientific collections.

-"Molecular Collections For Basic Research: Museums, Methods And Morality": Among other things, this paper addresses the often contentious issue of collection, study and exchange of genetic material in ex-situ conservation research and management. It also clarifies the roles of museum-based molecular collections, and discusses practical issues involving methods and management of such collections.

-"Molecular Approaches In Local Biodiversity Studies" and "Small is Beautiful: DNA Evolution and Conservation of Minute Snails from SE Asian Limestone Hills": The first paper lists various molecular techniques used in biodiversity studies, and provides examples of studies in Malaysia where molecular approaches are being applied. The second paper is a good example of how molecular techniques can be employed to complement morphological studies in identifying populations or areas for in-situ conservation.

Contributors to these proceedings include researchers/representatives from international conservation organisations (e.g., IUCN-The World Conservation Union, World Wide Fund for Nature); government agencies (e.g., Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Science and Technology, Sabah, Malaysia, and Sabah Forest Department); intergovernmental organisations (e.g., International Tropical Timber Organization); universities (e.g., Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and University of Aarhus, Denmark); and museums (e.g., Sabah Museum, and Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University, USA). Surprisingly, zoos, which often pride themselves on their involvement in ex-situ biodiversity conservation research, are noticeably absent from involvement in these proceedings or in the conference. Nevertheless, this volume still represents an amalgamation of input from several stakeholders, and thus reflects the multilateral approach that is necessary and is now being adopted in biodiversity conservation and management.

This is indeed a timely publication, as it provides a useful update or summary of the latest developments in techniques and approaches used for biodiversity research and management. It would therefore be an ideal reference tool for both the uninitiated as well as the seasoned biodiversity worker here in Southeast Asia.

Darren C. J. Yeo
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 50(1): 275-276 on 30 Jun 2002.

"Ornithology of Sabah: History, Gazetteer, Annotated Checklist and Bibliography" by Sheldon, F. H. et al. (2001)

Ornithology of Sabah: History, Gazetteer, Annotated Checklist and Bibliography. Sheldon, F. H., R. G. Moyle & J. Kennard, 2001. Ornithological Monographs 52, American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. vi + 285 pp. USD 25.00. Without ISBN number.

Occupying the north part of the island of Borneois Malaysian state of Sabah. Due to its unique geographic location, Borneo is one of the nerve centres of biodiversity. However, sadly, biodiversity of Sabah, as of Southeast Asia, is poorly studied. This sad reality remains despite the fact that habitat destruction in Southeast Asia has been unprecedented in recent times. Sound biological knowledge, in my mind, is needed for effective conservation. Any monograph on the birds of Sabah should therefore be good news. However, when I received a copy of this monographs, two thoughts came to my mind. First, I thought -not another book on birds of Southeast Asia! There are numerous books (field guides) on the birds of Southeast Asia -most of them are scientifically useless as they often lack adequate information on the bird biology. Second, I thought that anybody could compile the available information. As I show below, both of my thoughts were wrong.

This monograph is divided into five parts: introduction, history, gazetteer, annotated checklist and bibliography. Included in introduction are physical, geographical and habitat features of Sabah. Also included are critical analyses on evolution, ecology, behaviour and conservation. These four parts make this monograph apart from traditional field guides that I was mentioning earlier. As mentioned, all these chapters are critically written. In addition to succinctly summarizing the current state of knowledge, they point the readers towards the areas that potential researchers can home in. Probably because of lack of information, ecology and behaviour section dwell on Bornean birds than specifically on Sabahan birds.

The authors point out the biological benefits of strategically placing agricultural plantations. Such examples show that both conservation and exploitation can be and should be effectively balanced. All survey sites in Sabah are mapped with geographic coordinates given for most of them. This I admit is a mammoth task in its own particularly because the sites have Malay names and would have been difficult to map. In my mind, the most valuable part of this book is the species descriptions. When available, data on the species' biology are presented. Such information will be particularly useful for future studies such as those comparing guild compositions among sites.

Anybody interested in Southeast Asian birds should own this monograph. With this work, the stage is set for more quantitative ornithological research in Sabah. I have a number of wishes. First, I hope that similar monographs are published for other regions such as Sarawak and Java. Second, I hope that ornithological research in Southeast Asia takes a leap from traditional survey work. Last, governments in the region provide conducive environment for scientific research - unknown biodiversity cannot be protected adequately.

Navjot S. Sodhi
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Blk S2. 14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543
Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 50(2): 511 on 31 Dec 2002

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"A Guide to Tropical Freshwater Zooplankton – Identification, Ecology and Impact on Fisheries" by Ed. Fernando, C. H. (2002)

Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands, 291 pages. ISBN 90-5782-117

Fundamental to studying the biology and ecology of organisms, and their use as indicator
organisms in pollution studies is the ability to identify organisms. Although taxonomy is crucial to such studies, this area of research is generally not well supported. However, taxonomic studies are better supported in developed, northern temperate countries compared with tropical regions, which are represented by many developing countries. This book is thus
a welcome addition to the rather scarce information database on identifying tropical freshwater zooplankton. The book covers the major zooplankton groups (Rotifera, Cladocera,
Copepoda, Ostracoda, and Miscellaneous groups representing seven phyla) each written by an expert in the field.

The book comprises seven chapters. Chapter 1 gives a rundown on methods for sampling zooplankton, and their preparation for microscopic examination. Zooplankton ecologists will find the section on determining the secondary production of cladocerans, and notes on the ecology of the main groups useful. Chapter 2 deals with the rotifers, their morphology, collection and preservation, and their biogeography. This is followed by a key to families, genera and species. Chapter 3 introduces cladocerans with short notes on the morphology and distribution of each of the 63 species listed. This is followed by a key to the identification
of species. To assist in the identification, a pictorial key is also provided, which I found very useful, particularly for those being introduced to the world of water fleas. Chapter 4 covers the copepods. Because of the fact that the copepod undergoes metamorphosis from naupliar to copepodid through to adult stages, its identification requires familiarity with morphological features; this is dealt with for the three stages at the order level. Keys to species of calanoids and cyclopoids are provided with notes on their zoogeographical distribution, and general comments on the ecology and productivity of the group. Chapter 5 introduces the ostracods
by familarising the reader with their taxonomic characteristics before presenting a key and accompanying notes to the identification of various genera. Chapter 6 provides ecological and distributional notes on the less dominant groups generally found in zooplankton samples.

These comprise the Protozoa, Coelenterate, Platyhelminthes, Ectoprocta, several orders of Insecta, Arachnida, Mollusca, and parasitic copepods. The last chapter places the zooplankton in the context of tropical freshwater fisheries, with discussions on the role of fish in shaping zooplankton composition and evolution in freshwaters. This chapter also compares trophic relationships of fish and zooplankton between tropical and temperate lakes, and concludes with some insights to the contribution of zooplankton to tropical freshwater fisheries.

The various chapters have copious amounts of illustrations, which will greatly assist the reader in identifying the various taxa. To the tropical zooplankton taxonomist/ecologist this book should contribute to making life easier in identifying the little beasties in your samples. A book worth acquiring for the library or personally.

Richard P. Lim
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Technology, Sydney
PO Box 123. Broadway
NSW 2007

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 51(1): 177 on 30 Jun 2004.

"The Indo-Pacific scyllarine lobsters (Crustacea, Decapoda, Scyllaridae) by Holthuis, L. B. (2002)

The Indo-Pacific scyllarine lobsters (Crustacea, Decapoda, Scyllaridae). Holthuis, L. B., 2002. Zoosystema, 24(3): 499-683. Publications Scientifiques du Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. ISSN 1280-9551.

The flathead lobsters of the family Scyllaridae are very diverse, and of the four recognised subfamilies, the Scyllarinae has the most species. Until this revision, this subfamily had only one very speciose genus, Scyllarus Fabricius, 1775, its members occurring in all the major oceans. Within the Indo-Pacific, identifying Scyllarus species has always been a major problem, with 41 available names. The present revision solves this headache. The present author is the acknowledged world expert on lobsters, and has worked on them for decades. Already, he has reorganised the subfamilies within the Scyllaridae and has revised the Ibacinae (see Holthuis, L. B., 1985: A revision of the family Scyllaridae (Crustacea: Decapoda: Macrura). I. Subfamily Ibacinae. Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden, No. 218: 1-130), but the one group for which a revision was most needed was without doubt the Indo-Pacific Scyllarinae. In fact, the roots of the present revision were planted over 40 years ago, and it has taken that long for it to be finally finished. But the wait has certainly been worth it. The author shows that the genus Scyllarus s. str. is restricted to the Atlantic and Mediterranean; and establishes 13 new genera for the species from the Indo-Pacific. In the process, he also describes eight new species. The largest Indo-Pacific genus is now his new genus, Eduarctus, with seven species. Almost all the species are described and figured in detail, with colour figures provided for 12 taxa. Habitat, depth and larval data is provided and discussed whenever possible. Two monotypic genera, Antarctus and Antipodarctus, however, were only briefly diagnosed, the full treatment of these southern ocean species been left to John Yaldwyn of New Zealand. One regret would be that the author has not revised Scyllarus s. str. as well and sorted out the problems within it. As things stand, this task will almost certainly have to be taken up by his successor (whoever he or she may be).

Noteworthy is also that the journal ZOOSYSTEMA is now taking on large monographs like Holthuis’ present masterpiece on the Scyllarinae. This journal has had a very long history and throughout most of the last few decades, has been better known to its users as the BULLETIN DU MUSEUM NATIONALE D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE, 4th SERIE, SECTION A, ZOOLOGIE, PARIS. In its new format and name, which is now past its fifth year, the journal has had a timely revival and is set to carry on the excellent traditions and roles of its predecessors.

Peter K. L. Ng
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge, Singapore 119260, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 51(1): 174 on 30 Jun 2003.

"Crustacea: Malacostraca: Phyllocarida, Hoplocarida, Eucarida" and "Crustacea: Malacostraca: Eucarida" by Davie, P. J. F. (2002)

Crustacea: Malacostraca: Phyllocarida, Hoplocarida, Eucarida (Part 1). Davie, P. J. F., 2002. In: Wells, A. & W. W. K. Houston (eds.), Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 19.3A. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing, Australia. xii + 551 pp. AU$ 140.00. ISBN 0-643-06791-4.

Crustacea: Malacostraca: Eucarida (Part 2: Decapoda— Anomura, Brachyura). Davie, P. J. F., 2002. In: Wells, A. & W. W. K. Houston (eds.), Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 19.3B. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing, Australia. xiv + 641 pp. AU$ 150.00. ISBN 0-643-06792-

These two excellent volumes summarise the systematics and taxonomy of most of the major groups of Australian crustaceans (except Syncarida and Peracarida, which is dealt with in two other volumes) within the largest class of subphylum Crustacea—Malacostraca. The volumes are part of the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) produced Zoological Catalogue of Australia series, which is known for its high quality of taxonomic and nomenclatural

The last such inventory of the Australian crustacean fauna was published more than a hundred years ago by W. A. Haswell in 1882 (Catalogue of the Australian stalk- and sessile-eyed Crustacea. Australian Museum, Sydney. xxiv + 326 pp.), so the present works are certainly welcome and have been highly-anticipated. The impressive combined coverage of these two volumes includes more than 2,400 species (70 families, 343 genera and 1,225 species of
Australian shrimps, prawns and lobsters in Vol. 19.3A; and 55 families, 438 genera and 1,243 species of Australian crabs, and hermit crabs and their kin in Vol. 19.3B).

The large number of taxa to a certain extent reflects the considerable geographic scope that the volumes cover. Australia is defined in the series as including all Australian territories and protectorates such as Norfolk and Lord Howe Island; Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs; Coral Sea Islands Territory; Cartier and Hibernia Reefs; Christmas and Cocos Keeling Islands; and Australian Antarctic Territory and Subantarctic islands. And while many groups represented
here, especially the tropical ones, have Indo-Malaysian and Indo-West Pacific affinities, the temperate and freshwater fauna, which display a high degree of endemism, have also contributed to the high species counts.

Both volumes begin with a general introduction to the Malacostraca, followed by a historical overview of the most important contributions to Australian carcinology over the past 200 years. The bulk of the volumes, the summaries of taxonomic and nomenclatural information for all Australian Phyllocarida, Hoplocarida and Eucarida (crabs hermit crabs and allies in Vol. 19.3B; the rest in Vol. 19.3A) down to species group level, are then presented in a concise and
practical format, which is clearly explained in the Editorial Preface to each volume. A brief introduction containing comments on phylogenetic relationships and other recent studies, and a diagnosis, is given for every higher level taxon down to subfamily group level. Genera and species are then listed with relevant information including type data, type locality, distribution and ecology. Primary references are given for all names including junior synonyms, while
references for synonymy often refers to the latest review paper being followed, and not necessarily the original reference responsible for the synonymy.

Although the two volumes were not intended to be sources of new information, a good number of new decisions regarding synonymies, type species designations, higher classification, etc., have also been made, based either on the experience of the author, or in consultation with or based on the unpublished information of other experts, all of whom are acknowledged. This makes the present compilation even more invaluable as it is very “up to date”.

This timely pair of publications helps bring the reader up to date with the state of systematics and taxonomy of Australian malacostracans, many of which are species of economic importance, not just in Australia, but also occur in many other parts of the Indo-West Pacific, making the volumes invaluable outside Australia as well. Gaps in our knowledge of this significant group have also been identified. They are therefore a “must-have” for crustacean taxonomists and marine ecologists, as well as fisheries and aquaculture workers, and sustainable resource managers.

Darren C. J. Yeo
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Blk S6, Science Drive 2
Singapore 117600, Republic of Singapore

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 51(1): 176 on 30 Jun 2004.

"A photographic guide to snakes and other reptiles of India" by Das, I. (2002)

New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London. 144 pp. GBP 7.99. ISBN 1-84330- 125-3.

We are all well aware of how unique and diverse the fauna of the great Indian Sub-continent is,and its amphibian and reptile inhabitants are certainly no exception. Despite sharing a smallfraction of its herpetofauna with Indo- China and the Sundalands, a large majority of Indian species, even genera, are strictly confined to this distinct biogeographical realm. The breath-taking array of available habitats in this country covers a broad spectrum, ranging from the cold and harsh Himalayan mountains in the north to the warm, sun-kissed Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the south. And in between these two extremities of latitude, microclimate and habitats, some 490 species of reptiles have been discovered. With ongoing research interests in India, it is no doubt that this figure would reach 500 in a very short time.

Image adapted from Turtle and Tortise preservation Group on 23rd May 2007.

After almost two centuries of herpetological work in India, a formidable number of publications would have been churned out from such a long history of research. However, the most complete works would undeniably have been by Malcolm A. Smith, who produced three separate volumes over a span of more than twelve years. He systematically covered the crocodiles and turtles in Volume I (Smith, 1931), the lizards in Volume II (Smith, 1935) and the snakes in Volume III (Smith, 1943). These valuable classics have long been regarded as almost indispensable references in the library of any herpetologist interested in the Asian arena. However, details that were previously described in a thousand words have now been painted in a picture, and compiled into a handy sized book that would fit snugly in your waist-pouch or daypack. A whopping 243 different species of reptiles (110 snakes, 98 lizards, 3 crocodilians, 32 turtles) are featured in Indraneil’s most recent book, among other earlier titles by him.

Herpetologists or hobbyists who have merely confined their focus on the Southeast Asian fauna would bump into a number of ‘familiar faces’ while thumbing through this book, but at least two thirds of the cold-blooded creatures would invoke quizzical exclamations such as: “Is that a snake? Looks more like a worm!”, “How do you pronounce Ptyctolaemus?”, “Why does this lizard have a toad’s head?”, “This turtle looks like a ‘Made in Hong Kong’ toy!”. Truly an eye-opener for those uninitiated with Indian reptiles. But for those in the know, this book serves as an update on nomenclatural changes (eg. the Indian Trinket Snake Elaphe helena [featured on cover] has been reassigned to the genus Coelognathus) and recently discovered species (eg. Cnemaspis otai, described by the author and Aaron Bauer in 1998).

By any standards, if the proverbial ‘iceberg’ of Indian reptiles were 490 species deep, the author has clearly far surpassed just ‘the tip’, having plunged to the midpoint at least, and surfacing with 243 species in tow, all for our viewing and learning pleasure. My sincere compliments to his tireless efforts, whose book now complements the earlier New Holland guide (Cox et al., 1998), which highlighted reptiles in Thailand and the Malay peninsula. We look forward to a similar work on the amphibians of India with eager anticipation.

Cox, M. J., P. P. van Dijk, J. Nabhitabhata & K. Thirakupt, 1998. A photographic guide to snakes and other reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London. 144 pp.

Smith, M. A., 1931. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. I. Loricata, Testudines. Taylor & Francis, London. xxvii + 185 pp., 2 pl.

Smith, M. A., 1935. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol. II. Sauria. Taylor & Francis, London. xiii + 440 pp., 1 pl.

Smith, M. A., 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, including the whole of the Indo-Chinese region. Vol. III. Serpentes. Taylor & Francis, London. xii + 583 pp., 1 map.

Tzi Ming Leong
Systematics & Ecology Laboratory
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge
Singapore 119260

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 51(1): 175 on 30th Jun 2003.

"Sri Lanka Freshwater Fauna and Fisheries" by Fernando, C. H. & S. R. Weerewardhena (2002)

Sri Lanka Freshwater Fauna and Fisheries. Fernando, C. H. & S. R. Weerewardhena, 2002. A Third Millenium Book, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Volumes Publishing, Kitchener, Canada. ISBN 955-97697-0-7. Orders to the authors at or

This weighty tome - 634 A4 pages – landed on my desk with a resounding thump. Its heft is due not only to physical bulk. C. Herbert Fernando, the senior author, has half a century of experience in tropical limnology, and is indisputably one of the founding fathers of this research area. The book is subtitled ‘A guide to the freshwater fauna and the genesis of inland fisheries’ and is made up of a number of papers by Fernando and his collaborators published between 1956 and 2002. There is only one item in the book that has not appeared elsewhere, and it the only paper that features the two authors. The original papers do not seem to have been modified in any way. The lack of editing means that there are some redundancies in the text, but the difficulty of obtaining some of Fernando’s original papers means that a reprint of this type is welcome. It is also helpful to have these papers bound collated into a single volume. I stress here that this volume is by no means a full representation of Fernando’s prodigious output.

A particular pleasure is to come across Mendis & Fernando’s seminal guide to the freshwater fauna of Sri Lanka (then, of course, called Ceylon). This 160-page paper is in itself a small book. It covers all major groups, from protozoa to otters, and is illustrated by the many delightful hand drawings of G.D. Kariyawasam. (My particular favourite is a picture of the Stork-billed kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis.) I have my own, now rather dog-eared original of this paper and got a great deal of use out of it when I first started working in Asia. Of course, it is incomplete, and really only fully applicable to Sri Lanka, but it is an example of what is possible when a couple of young scientists decide to develop a tool that will help others make sense of a poorly known fauna. This first attempt was followed, over the years, but five supplements, each written by Fernando, plus papers on rotifers and copepods co-authored with collaborators. The fifth supplement was specially prepared by this volume by Fernando and Weerawardhena, and brings knowledge of the fauna up to date. Nomenclatural changes are taken into account also. As might be expected from Fernando’s own research interests in the group, zooplankton are particularly well covered in this volume. But this group aside, it is
probably true to say that the freshwater fauna of Sri Lanka is as well known, or perhaps better known, than any other tropical country of an equivalent size. There is still plenty to do, however. The Chironomidae (Diptera), for instance, are very poorly known but the family is likely to be highly species rich.

Papers that describe the development of freshwater fisheries in Sri Lanka, primarily reservoir fisheries, take up the rest of the book. These are based mainly upon the exploitation of exotic tilapias (sensu lato), there being no native fishes adapted to lacustrine habitats. This fact has encouraged Fernando to expound on his politically-incorrect view that exotic species can, under certain conditions, be valuable additions to local faunas (especially on pages 621 & 622). He quotes Charles Elton’s classic 1958 monograph on biological invasions (Elton, 1958) in support of this opinion, proposing that conservation should involve enhancing biological variety in as many places as possible, even if that means the addition of exotics. Moreover, Fernando thinks that that exotic species are not always threats to native biodiversity, suggesting that worldwide cultivation of chickens has reduced the pressure to harvest wild birds. There is something to be said for his views. Exotics have been and are being introduced throughout Asia in an unplanned, ad hoc manner. It may be better to accept that some exotics will arrive anyway, and manage or facilitate the introduction species that are least likely to impact native biotas. Many readers may disagree with Fernando’s view, but the evidence that he has assembled deserves careful consideration. Certainly, it should not be dismissed out of hand. I confess that as a native biodiversity chauvinist (i.e. native = good; introduced = bad), this was my initial reaction.

This volume contains a lot of useful information. However, some of it is hard to locate. A frustrating feature, although an understandable one considering its genesis, is the lack of an overall index. There are three partial indexes, which cover pages 162-422 and 445-485, and the contents of the original Mendis & Fernando paper. The third of these is well done, but a test of the first revealed that it was incomplete. From page 507 onwards there is no indexing at all. In order to find entries on a given taxon, the reader has to consult all three indices, but even then cannot be confident that a useful nugget of information hasn’t been missed.

On the back cover, the subtitle is slightly different from that on the frontispiece, and is given as ‘A guide to the freshwater fauna of Sri Lanka and a genesis of the fisheries’. The blurb goes on to say ‘ ... this is the only comprehensive book on the freshwater fauna and fisheries of any county in the world. It was written and updated over a period of nearly 50 years’. Need I say more?

Elton, C. S., 1958. The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. Chapman & Hall, London. 181 pp.

David Dudgeon
Department of Ecology & Biodiversity,
The University of Hong Kong,
Hong Kong SAR,

First published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 51(1): 173-174 on 30 Jun 2003.