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HMW Handbook of the Mammals of the World (1 Viewer)

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
Lynx Editions, the publishers of HBW, now have more info on their new project, the comparable Handbook of the Mammals of the World.

http://www.hbw.com/lynx/en/handbook-mammals-world/index.html

Volume 1, treating the carnivores, is scheduled for next April. Very exciting news, indeed, for whoever sees the need for a similar compendium on the mammals like we have come to appreciate for the birds.

Their pre-publication reduction is valid till the end of March. But I presume they stick to their policy of first ordered - first served.

What strikes me is that the number of planned volumes (8) is no longer showing on the Lynx website. Could it mean that the publishers realized an increase in volumes would be inevitable? Same thing happened with HBW, though not at the onset.
 

Rasmus Boegh

BF member
Excellent idea. I do hope they'll be able to keep the high standard of the bird version (and specifically related to the sample plates they have included on their page, for completeness I do hope they'll remember that some Black Bear are brown - would of course be nice to also include the white morph of kermodei or the greyish emmonsii, but I'm less bothered about that).
 
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jurek

Well-known member
...and that syrian brown bears are pale, and that quinlingensis giant pandas are brown and white.

I think idea is good, but samples of the text included seem rather too general and vague for so well studied creatures. Also photos are either tame animals or often-reproduced images (would be great to see some recent wild snow leopard pics instead of tame cub on the backdrop of Rocky Mountains). Would be interesting to see the finished book.
 

Rasmus Boegh

BF member
...and that syrian brown bears are pale, and that quinlingensis giant pandas are brown and white.

Syrian Browns are rather similar in colour - a bit browner perhaps - to the illustrated Grizzly (which, of course, is pretty variable itself). Additionally, the single photo I've seen of a qinlingensis Giant Panda shows a far less impressive variation than what was suggested in the description of this subspecies. If the photo is accurate (I'll see if I can remember where I saw it), I'd say "slightly brown-tinged" is more accurate than brown for the dark parts, and the pale sections looked essentially as any other Giant Panda looks when dirty. Anyhow, we'll see the final result of this book.

EDIT: Found the photos. An immature, but in terms of colours it should be pretty similar to the ad's: http://www.lastrefuge.co.uk/images/html/panda/preview_html/panda1.html
 
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jurek

Well-known member
Not sure about pandas. Syrian brown bears are pale milk-coffee coloured, at least ones I seen in European zoos.
 

Melanie

Well-known member
I am most curious on volume 3 about the primates. Because for the first time we will have accounts and illustrations of all newly described primates and lemurs since 1990 in one book, in particular those which were discovered by Marc van Roosmalen and Russ Mittermeier.
 
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Isurus

Well-known member
Has Marc's stuff all been formally published and recognised? Quite a lot of it seems to just be on his website at the moment unless I'm missing publications?
 

Melanie

Well-known member
Well, there are some publications like this interesting paper: http://marcvanroosmalen.org/images/Taxonomic_Review_of_Titi_Monkeys.pdf. There are also accounts in Wilson/Reeder: Mammal Species of the World and in a German book called Vergleichende Primatologie (Comparative Primatology) by Thomas Geissmann. But i think the HMW will be the most comprehensive account.

Has Marc's stuff all been formally published and recognised? Quite a lot of it seems to just be on his website at the moment unless I'm missing publications?
 

Rasmus Boegh

BF member
Has Marc's stuff all been formally published and recognised? Quite a lot of it seems to just be on his website at the moment unless I'm missing publications?

His earlier stuff has generally gained wider recognition and was, with a few exceptions, published in peer-reviewed journals, but there are on-going discussions regarding the taxonomy of numerous primate groups, in particular because several authorties (incl. Marc) in recent years have lobbied strongly for the phylogenetic species concept; i.e. there can be no doubts that many of the recently described "species" are species per PSC, but likewise there can be no doubts that many of them "only" are subspecies per the biological species concept (and you'll also notice that while numerous new species of primates have been described in recent years, virtually no subspecies have been described in the same period). As for the numerous "new species" Marc has mentioned/published info about in the last 2-3 years, they've been met with a far higher level of scepticism from fellow biologists than his earlier work. E.g. when he published rather brief comments about an orange coati I remember reading numerous comments around the internet speaking almost ecstatically about this potentially stunning animal... what they presumably didn't know is that there already are recognized subspecies of the South American Coati in parts of the Pantanal and south-central and south-eastern Amazon that are quite rich orange (see e.g. this: http://www.ddbstock.com/jpegndx/junglefauna/junglefauna064.jpg; in the border regions between the "normally coloured" ssp's and the orange ssp's the two intergrade and both colours can even be found among the members of the same group: http://flickr.com/photos/nor/56838165/sizes/o/), and thereby look completely different from the duller "standard" subspecies people are familiar with from zoos and alike (nevertheless, there is a possible new species of Nasuella coati in Peru - it is sometimes even seen near Machu Picchu - but that's another discussion). The subspecies with the "standard" colour are found in the northern, eastern and southern part of this species' range - as indeed could be expected from the drier habitat (standard Gloger's Rule). This geographical variation was even described more than a decade ago by L. H. Emmons in her book Neotropical Rainforest Mammals (which also correctly describes how the west Amazonain ssp's of the South American Coatis are much darker - indeed they look as different from the "normal ssp's" as the orange; http://flickr.com/photos/williamquatman/1075001861/sizes/l/). Enough coati for one post! Anyhow, the case for several of his other recent claims of "new species" are equally questionable, even if there quite probably are a few "good ones" among them.
 
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Daniel Philippe

Well-known member
Any news on this book? It is supposed to be published this month.

I received this mail today:

Dear Customer ,

We are pleased to inform you that your copy of the Handbook of the Mammals of the World volume 1 has been sent to you on Tuesday 12th of May. It will be delivered directly to the address you specified within about 9 working days. Please contact us if you do not receive the volume, or notification from the transport company, within this period.

Regards,

Lynx Edicions
 

Melanie

Well-known member
What is the HMW saying about the population status of the Malabar Civet? It is really extinct?

Can't review more than the cover today, but a glimpse inside revealed a layout very similar to HBW, superb photos and outstanding illustrations.

:t::t::t:
 

Daniel Philippe

Well-known member
What is the HMW saying about the population status of the Malabar Civet? It is really extinct?

Status and Conservation. Classified as Critically Endangered on The IUCN Red List. Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act. The Malabar Civet is extremely rare and is listed as a priority species for conservation by the IUCN/SSC Small Carnivore Specialist Group. It has been recorded mostly in the coastal district, from Kanyakumari in the south to Honnavar in the north. There are only two reports of its occurrence at higher elevations, in the High Wavy Mountains and Kudremukh. In 1972, the IUCN declared that the Malabar Civet was « possibly extinct ». However, in the 1970s there were two possible sight records of this species, one in the Kudremukh area, Karnataka, and the other in Tiruvella, Kerala. Skins of recently killed civets were obtained in Elayur, Kerala (in 1987), and near Nilambur, northern Kerala (in 1990). Loss and degradation of habitat is a serious threat ; it is likely that surviving populations exist in the remaining lowland forests and sub-optimal habitats along the foothills and lower slopes of the Western Ghats. Another major threat is hunting for meat. Various conservation measures have been proposed : greater protection of remaining populations and habitats, captive breeding, field surveys, and ecological studies.
 

Melanie

Well-known member
Oh, thank you very much for this information. So there is some hope that this species might have survived. I think I will got my HMW copy in the early summer.
 

Rasmus Boegh

BF member
A fast review of HMW vol. 1: First, do keep in mind that while I do have a “fair level” of knowledge about mammals, I am certainly not an expert and could therefore easily have missed something (not to forget that this is based on first impressions rather than a thorought check through every single part of the book).

I’ll start with what IMO is the primary weakness in an otherwise excellent work: Subspecies. In most species, there are no descriptions of subspecies (how they differ from each other - they do include the usual lists of the subspecies+their distribution in the intro of each species). I am well aware that mammalian taxonomy overall is far behind that of birds (far fewer people working with mammalian taxonomy & often far fewer specimens available, making it harder to accurately judge geographical variations), but even in species where the basis for recognizing the subspecies is relatively well known, it is often not mentioned in text. The same is the case in species where geographical variations in e.g. colour are relatively well known, even if they do not necessarily match currently recognized subspecies well. For example, while it is mentioned that the color of the South American Coati is very variable, ranging from very dark brown to orange, none of the geographical patterns in this variation – as I described in the earlier post #9 – are mentioned. The same is the case with many other species. Related to this, they generally do not mention IUCN Red List status for subspecies (only for species), e.g. no mention of the fact that the Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) is rated as Endangered, or that the Iriomote Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis) is rated as Critically Endangered. Secondly, in many cases they have an IMO odd approach to species where a new review of the subspecific taxonomy is needed: They disregard all “traditionally” recognized subspecies and consider the species monotypic, as can be seen in e.g. the Stone Marten, Common Slender Mongoose, Eurasian Otter, Common Palm Civet and Binturong (in the last they somewhat oddly include illustrations of two subspecies and mention them in the taxonomy section, but don’t have any subspecies in the list). True, in these and several others the “traditional” subspecific boundaries are likely not entirely correct, but taxonomic work – as is the case with all scientific work – builds on top of previous knowledge (it is not a start from zero, as suggested by removing all “traditional” subspecies). As can be seen in both birds and mammals where there have been recent reviews of the subspecies, there really are few cases where earlier generations of taxonomists didn’t get it at least partially right... partially right is better than nothing. In other cases they evidently are aware of new work, but for some reasons chose not to follow it. For example, the recently described quinlingensis subspecies of the Giant Panda (also mentioned in some of the first posts of this thread) is not recognized, even if the taxonomic intro for the Giant Panda says: “No subspecies yet recognized, although one population in Quingling Mountains, Shaanxi Province, shows differences in cranial and dental morphology, pelage characteristics, and genetics indications of isolation for several thousand years, and a subspecies designation (quinlingensis) has been proposed.” With all that, and no arguments presented for why it should not be recognized, I find it puzzling why they still do not recognize it. Likewise, several studies (as they also mention) have shown that the various African subspecies of the Leopard should be considered synonymous. They do not mention any reasons for disregarding these studies, but still end up listing the several “traditional” African subspecies. Nevertheless, they evidently are fully aware of even very recent taxonomic publications/ideas, as there are few cases where they do not mention them somewhere (either in the systematic section of the family or under the taxonomic section of the individual species). E.g. they mention the very recent idea of splitting the Hog Badger into three species (even if they end up contradicting themselves in that species' entry versus plate) and – finally – a much needed review of the olingos has dealt with the previous complete taxonomic mess of that genus, though it means that they are forced to list one of the species as “Bassaricyon n. sp”, as they managed to beat the publication of the official species description. It should be noted that they (with very few exceptions, e.g. the Chinese Mountain Cat, where I have been unable to find any mention of the genetic work that suggests it should be considered a subspecies of F. silvestris [catus]) use what I would consider up-to-date species and generic limits, i.e. the previous mentioned issues are generally restricted to the lower level of subspecies.

The photos are, as we are used to from the bird equivalent HBW, plentiful and generally excellent: Like a Sand Cat having a go at a small viper and a Lion dealing with a young African Elephant (yes I know some might consider that last photo gruesome, but to disregard something like this in a book about Carnivores would IMO have been highly questionable and diminished the books value), a Margay showing its capability of climbing head-first down a tree trunk, encounters between a group of Banded Mongooses and a group of Common Dwarf Mongooses, a resting Banded Mongoose lying flat on its belly with all four limbs pointing outwards leading to an almost cartoonish look, a series of photos showing a “mouse leap” through snow by an Arctic Fox, a Gray Wolf – Brown Bear encounter, Giant Otter – Spectacled Caiman encounter, a Wolverine that looks seriously mad and as a direct opposite a playing young Wolverine rolling around on its back with its leg in the air and the tongue hanging out, not to forget photos of relatively poorly known rarities like the Andean Cat, Hose’s Palm Civet, Golden Palm Civet, Liberian Mongoose, Darwin’s Fox, Mountain Coati, Pygmy Spotted Skunk, etc. I do wonder if the identification of the "Tibetan Fox" on page 402 is correct, but perhaps I'm simply being fooled by the appearance of young individuals of this species (I've mentioned issues with certain identification in the bird equivalent HBW elsewhere; http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=125169).

The plates, too, are generally excellent and IMO belong among the best I have seen for mammals (something I admittedly feared a bit before receiving the book, considering the "mixed" quality of mammal illustrations in many field guides). There really are very few where I have some issues, and where I do they are in general minor. The fact remains; they are generally among the best mammal illustrations I have seen. It also appears they added quite a few illustrations in the last period of the production, as some may have noticed from the change in the sample plates available on the Lynx Edicions homepage. For example, they now have both the brown and white Black Bears (see post #2) and Syrian Brown Bears (post #3; there are now illustrations of 6 subspecies of the Brown Bear). In general, the coverage of subspecies/variants/morphs on the plates is excellent, and there are few cases where I think an extra illustration would have added any significant to the value of this work. Furthermore, unlike the bird equivalent HBW, HMW includes illustrations of animals in the winter pelage when it differs significantly from summer, and in a small number of cases (several of the large cats) they even included illustrations of juveniles.

I have very little to add on the main text (family & species), and the sections I have checked generally appear both thorough and up-to-date. In addition to all the “usual” stuff, I was quite pleased to see that they included dental formulas in many species, which are quite important in several mammalian groups. I have not spend any greater amount of time checking the first chapter, which is an overall introduction to mammals (skeleton, respiratory system, metabolism, various types of locomotion, lactation, behaviors, etc), but it appeared to be a good, although brief, introduction to the various matters.

So, overall this appears to be the start of yet another excellent series, but with room for improvements on the issues mentioned in the first section of this review. On a 10-point scale (0= worst; 10 = perfect) with the last few volumes of the bird equivalent HBW rating at 8 or 9, HMW vol. 1 would be 7 or 8. Recommended for anyone with a more serious interest in mammals than just the usual "big and famous" species.
 
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jurek

Well-known member
Like Rasmus, I noticed changed plates (including eg. Syrian Brown Bear and colour forms of American Black Bear). I wonder if publishers might have responded to the last-minute critique? It would be very nice.

Overall, it is very good, especially as it is the first book to describe and reasonably portrait many less known small carnivores. Although I still cannot tell whether otters I saw in India were Eurasian or Smooth-coated Otters. !

Criticism? For me a bit too superficial, although of course many big carnivores are extremely well researched. I would enjoy more info on the past and prehistoric (eg. falkland wolf; no mention of so-called cave hyena or sabetoothed cats). In mammals we know that there is a fact a continuum from the prehistoric extinctions to the modern ones. Some species texts, in contrast, seem to be too much details and no overview of eg. food habits. Often the autors seem unable to describe when the knowledge is poor and unsafe (eg. like Rasmus said, many subspecies with a need of taxonomic revision).

Some pictures are painfully captive animals (sea otter and binturong with aquarium walls and mesh visible). Overall, a book is very attractive, but many pics seem too cropped, like the subject is 'exploding' the page.

Still, the best work on carnivores available, and much needed replacement of the old Walker's.
 

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