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Review of Turtles in Your Pocket: A Guide to Freshwater and Terrestrial Turtles of the Upper Midwest.

Review of Turtles in Your Pocket: A Guide to Freshwater and Terrestrial Turtles of the Upper Midwest, Terry VanDeWalle. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, Iowa, Sixteen-Panel laminated foldout, p. $9.95, ISBN 160938-061-4. 2011

Review of Frogs and Toads in Your Pocket: A Guide to Amphibians of the Upper Midwest Terry VanDeWalle. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, Iowa, Sixteen-Panel laminated foldout, p. $9.95, ISBN 1-60938-0592. 2011

There is certainly a solid niche for these laminated foldout field guides among naturalists, especially for those wanting to branch out of their current taxa of interest or to get a general introduction to a new group. The small size, light weight, and durability of this format are the key features that appeal to those of us used to carting heavy field guides around.

Both of these guides have excellent photographs by Suzanne Collins, which illustrate the key features described in the species accounts. Line drawings highlighting traits not readily observable in the photographs are also included, making identification much easier and more efficient. Each guide contains species accounts and a dichotomous key. The frogs and toads guide also has a panel on tadpole identification. Each species account contains the common and scientific names and is arranged in the following sections; range, size, description, habitat, natural history, and similar species. The frog & toad guide has an additional section on voice. These sections vary in length and quality. For example, range is simply a list of the Upper Midwest states from which each species has been documented. Neither guide contains range maps, which I prefer over a list of states. I would rather see range maps included than the dichotomous keys, which can be daunting for novice users. The remaining sections in each species account are well written and accurate. I consider a section on similar species to be essential to any field guide and the author has done a good job of describing look-alikes. The natural history section also aids in identification by including information on behavior and breeding phenology.

The nomenclature used is mostly up to date, for example Anaxyrus is used for the true toads and Lithobates for the ranid frogs. A few other relatively recent changes were not captured. The ranges of the chorus frogs of the genus Pseudacris do not reflect the revisions made by Lemmon et al. (2007, Mol. Phylog. Evol. 44: 1068-1082). However, deciding which names to use for recently revised groups is always difficult when preparing guides aimed at a broad range of users. The two gray treefrog species always present a challenge for field guides because they are impossible to distinguish using appearance alone, which is accurately reflected in the similar species section of the account. In the description section for these species, an attempt is made to differentiate the two, although it is problematic that the distinguishing characters that are listed seem to be just the reverse of the characters presented in the photographs.

In summary, these two guides are excellent sources of information for those wishing to identify the frogs, toads, and turtles of the Upper Midwest. Their compact size and ruggedness make them perfect for those times when you need to pack light and hit the trail.

CHRISTOPHER A. PHILLIPS, University of Illinois, Prairie Research Institute, Natural History Survey, Champaign, 61820
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Author:Phillips, Christopher A.
Publication:The American Midland Naturalist
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2013
Words:551
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