Category Archives: Conservation

Birds are going extinct: Entire species are hanging on by their wingtips

“Deforestation and the pet trade have ravaged avian populations, and the consequences for mankind could prove dire.”

That’s how Salon introduced an excerpt recently posted from The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals by Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich. The excerpt originally appeared on Earth Island Journal, and you can read it on Salon here.

Use promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copy of this important book.



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Filed under Animals, Birds, Conservation, Nature

Spring books preview: nature

Seasonal catalog cover spring 2016We’re excited about the books we’ll be publishing this spring—and we’re pleased to start off the new year with a series of posts that highlight our forthcoming titles. Be sure to check out the online edition of JHUP’s entire Spring 2016 catalog, and remember that promo code “HDPD” gets you a 30% discount on all pre-publication orders. Today we feature spring books on nature and life sciences; click on the title to read more about the book or to place an order:

schmidtThe Sting of the Wild
Justin O. Schmidt

kaysCandid Creatures
How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature
Roland Kays

fenolioLife in the Dark
Illuminating Biodiversity in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet Earth
Danté Fenolio

kells-westA Field Guide to Coastal Fishes
From Alaska to California
Val Kells, Luiz A. Rocha, and Larry G. Allen

snyderMarine Fishes of Florida
David B. Snyder and George H. Burgess

ransomWild Equids
Ecology, Management, and Conservation
edited by Jason I. Ransom and Petra Kaczensky

heaneyThe Mammals of Luzon Island
Biogeography and Natural History of a Philippine Fauna
Lawrence R. Heaney, Danilo S. Balete, and Eric A. Rickart

Use discount code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount on pre-publication orders for JHUP’s spring 2016 titles.
To order, click on the book titles above or call 800-537-5487.



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Filed under Animals, Biology, Conservation, Fish, Life Science, Nature, Publishing News

Fall books preview: nature & science

Fall 2015 very largeWe’re excited about the books we’ll be publishing this fall—and pleased to share this series of “Fall Books Preview” blog posts! Be sure to check out the online edition of JHUP’s entire Fall 2015 catalog, and remember that promo code “HDPD” gets you a 30% discount on pre-pub orders. Here are some of the terrific books we have coming in the months ahead on science, nature, and the environment:

ceballos15The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals
Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich

In The Annihilation of Nature, three of today’s most distinguished conservationists—Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich—tell the stories of the birds and mammals we have lost and those that are now on the road to extinction. These tragic tales, coupled with eighty-three color photographs from the world’s leading nature photographers, display the beauty and biodiversity that humans are squandering.

“This is a gorgeously illustrated book on a riveting subject: the charismatic bird and mammal species that we have already lost or are at risk of losing, the reasons for their demise, and what we can do to minimize our future losses.”—Jared Diamond, University of California–Los Angeles, author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

“A beautiful lament for the vanishing wildlife of the world—wrapped in a message of hope.”—Tim Flannery, Stanford University, author of Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth

Available in September

greeneAlfred Wegener: Science, Exploration, and the Theory of Continental Drift
Mott T. Greene

This landmark biography—the only complete account of Alfred Wegener’s fascinating life and work—is the culmination of twenty years of intensive research. Written with great immediacy and descriptive power, Alfred Wegener is a powerful portrait of the scientist who pioneered the theory of continental drift and the modern notion of unified Earth science.

“The definitive biography of Alfred Wegener—and a great read.”—Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University, author of Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth and coauthor of The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future

“Twenty-five years in the making, Greene’s terrific biography of Wegener has absolutely no competition: it is a giant leap forward in our knowledge of Wegener’s views and life. Readers will be immediately drawn into Wegener’s life by the fresh, direct, and accessible writing. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of earth science, meteorology, aerology, atmospheric physics, and twentieth-century science.”—Henry R. Frankel, University of Missouri–Kansas City, author of The Continental Drift Controversy

Available in October

boydThe Slain Wood: Papermaking and Its Environmental Consequences in the American South
William Boyd

When the paper industry moved into the South in the 1930s, it confronted a region in the midst of an economic and environmental crisis. Entrenched poverty, stunted labor markets, vast stretches of cutover lands, and severe soil erosion prevailed across the southern states. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, pine trees had become the region’s number one cash crop, and the South dominated national and international production of pulp and paper based on the intensive cultivation of timber.

In The Slain Wood, William Boyd chronicles the dramatic growth of the pulp and paper industry in the American South during the twentieth century and the social and environmental changes that accompanied it.

Available in November

spotillaThe Leatherback Turtle: Biology and Conservation
edited by James R. Spotila and Pilar Santidrián Tomillo

Leatherbacks have been declining in recent decades, and some predict they will be gone by the end of this century. Why? Because of two primary factors: human redevelopment of nesting beaches and commercial fishing.

In the most comprehensive book ever written on leatherback sea turtles, James R. Spotila and Pilar Santidrián Tomillo bring together the world’s leading experts to produce a volume that reveals the biology of the leatherback while putting a spotlight on the conservation problems and solutions related to the species. The book leaves us with options: embark on the conservation strategy laid out within its pages and save one of nature’s most splendid creations, or watch yet another magnificent species disappear.

Available in September

hacheSlap Shot Science: A Curious Fan’s Guide to Hockey
Alain Haché

Slap Shot Science is an under-the-hood, behind-the-scenes, action-packed romp through special moments in the game as seen from the perspective of science and explained in a way everyone can understand.

Praise for the first edition:

“Haché brings to this informative study the perspective of a physicist and amateur hockey player . . . making the reader feel like going to a game.”—Scientific American

“Pure entertainment, cover to cover.”—The Hockey News

Available in November


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Filed under Animals, Biology, Conservation, History of science, Life Science, Nature, Publishing News

Meet us in Jacksonville: American Society of Mammalogists

The long-anticipated fourth edition of the leading mammalogy textbook by George A. Feldhamer, Lee C. Drickamer, Stephen H. Vessey, Joseph F. Merritt, and Carey Krajewski is the featured book at this year’s Johns Hopkins University Press book display at the American Society of Mammalogists 2015 Annual Meeting. Mammalogy headlines a list of titles that cover every aspect of the field.

As America’s top mammalogy publisher, Johns Hopkins is thrilled to once again display titles by leading mammalogists, including Troy Best, Gerardo Ceballos, Andy Derocher, Dan Gebo, Stan Gehrt, Colin Groves, Paul Krausman, Tom Kunz, William McShea, Joe Merritt, Virginia Naples, Ron Nowak, DeeAnn Reeder, Seth Riley, Uldis Roze, John Seidensticker, Richard Thorington, and Don Wilson.

Editor Vince Burke will be on site to talk to anyone interested in chatting about book publishing, and JHUP will offer a deep discount for all our published titles at the meeting. With quality books on topics that range from small mammals to polar bears, browsing our booth is a great way to spend time in the exhibit hall. This year we’ll be offering special deep discount for orders of Mammals of Mexico. Stop by to take a look at this outstanding reference book and all the other quality works that surround it. See you in Jacksonville later this week!

feldhamerMammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, Ecology, fourth edition
by George A. Feldhamer, Lee C. Drickamer, Stephen H. Vessey, Joseph F. Merritt, and Carey Krajewski

A classroom classic, this completely revised and updated edition of the leading mammalogy textbook reflects the expertise and perspective of five leading mammalogists—with significant updates of taxonomy, a new chapter on mammalian molecular phylogenetics, and discussions of recently described species.

“This attractive book will be welcome to those seeking a well-written, current text to use in their mammalogy courses . . . It is logically organized, clearly written, well referenced, and nicely illustrated.”—Journal of Mammalogy, reviewing the previous edition

ceballoMammals of Mexico
edited by Gerardo Ceballos

Mammals of Mexico is the first reference book in English on the more than 500 types of mammal species found in the diverse Mexican habitats, which range from the Sonoran Desert to the Chiapas cloud forests.

“Gerardo Ceballos is an internationally recognized scientist known for his remarkable breadth and insights.”—Bruce Patterson, The Field Museum

geboPrimate Comparative Anatomy
by Daniel L. Gebo

This heavily illustrated, up-to-date textbook provides straightforward explanations of primate anatomy that move logically through the body plan and across species.

“Primate Comparative Anatomy is a very strong addition to the available books on primate anatomy. A clear, logical, and useful resource for students and a nice quick reference for researchers.”—Timothy M. Ryan, The Pennsylvania State University


Roads and Ecological Infrastructure: Concepts and Applications for Small Animals
edited by Kimberly M. Andrews, Priya Nanjappa, and Seth P. D. Riley

Wildlife Habitat Conservation: Concepts, Challenges, and Solutions
edited by Michael L. Morrison and Heather A. Mathewson

Mapping Disease Transmission Risk: Enriching Models Using Biogeography and Ecology
by Townsend Peterson

Essential Readings in Evolutionary Biology
edited by Francisco J. Ayala and John C. Avise

JHUP-sciencemath-2015Browse our new Science and Math catalog to see more terrific titles in mammalogy and life sciences.

Use promo code “HYOA” and receive a 30% discount when you order!








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Filed under Animals, Conservation, Conservation, Life Science, Nature

The nature of our neighborhood: house sparrows

Guest post by Leslie Day

The house sparrow’s Latin name, Passer domesticus, means small, active bird (Passer) belonging to a house (domesticus). House sparrows are tough little New York City birds that fill our parks, streets, sidewalks, and back yards with their daily comings and goings.

Illustration by Trudy Smoke, used by permission.

Illustration by Trudy Smoke, used by permission.

One hundred house sparrows were introduced from Europe into Brooklyn and Manhattan in the early 1850s. From there, the species expanded throughout North America. It is the most commonly seen bird throughout the five boroughs.

The male has a gray crown with chestnut patches bordering the crown and extending down to the pale gray cheek and neck. The black stripe in front of the eye extends to the beak and meets the black bib. The thick bill is grayish-black, and the legs are pale brown. The rump and tail is gray, the shoulders are chestnut brown, and the wings are brownish with a white wing bar. The female has gray checks, neck, and breast without the black bib. She has a buffy stripe between a brown eye stripe and brown crown.

House sparrows have the unusual behavior of taking baths in patches of dusty soil, usually in large groups. Each little bird creates a depression and throws dust all over its feathers to destroy parasites. Originally from Africa, they have evolved this adaptation of bathing without water.

These are small birds about six inches long, with a wingspan up to nine inches. However, they have big personalities. Unafraid of humans or dogs, they stay together in large family flocks and feed out in the open.

House sparrows mate for life. They live and nest inside every street corner lamppost pipe, over air conditioners, and inside any cavity they can find on building exteriors, dock pilings, and window grates. Within these cavities, they construct their nests with dried grasses, feathers, and string. I have seen them emerge from places that are surprising, like the nostrils of Teddy Roosevelt’s bronze horse on Central Park West in front of the American Museum of Natural History. They are devoted mates and devoted parents. When we lived on our houseboat, our cat Woody caught a baby house sparrow and carried it back to the boat alive. I gently removed it from his jaws and kept it warm. The bird’s mother and father stayed outside the houseboat window on a piling looking inside and chirping nonstop. Once the little fella could stand and seemed out of shock, I opened the window and out he flew, accompanied by his parents who chirped wildly to him as they flew back to the park.

Their voices are a series of seemingly identical chirps, although a bird researcher I know told me that they have different sounding chirps.

House sparrows play an important ecological role. They are omnivores, feeding on fruit in summer and dried berries and grass seeds in winter. In summer, they also consume invertebrates: beetles, cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets, aphids, spiders, flies, and moths.

When I walk out of our building in Washington Heights, I love seeing them inside the yew trees and holly bushes. Nearby there is a tree that is a roosting site for hundreds of house sparrows each evening. Opposite this is a tree that is a roosting site for hundreds of European starlings. The noise these two species make is almost deafening as they settle down each evening after a long day of hunting for food, keeping warm, and preening their feathers. And the chatter each morning is just as loud as they prepare themselves and us for the day ahead.

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day15Leslie Day is a New York City naturalist and the author of  Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City, Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City, and Field Guide to the Street Trees of New York City, published by Johns Hopkins. Dr. Day taught environmental science and biology for more than twenty years. Today, she leads nature tours in New York City Parks for the New York Historical Society, the High Line Park, Fort Tryon Park Trust, Riverside Park Conservancy, and New York City Audubon. Trudy Smoke is a professor of linguistics and rhetoric at Hunter College, City University of New York and a nature illustrator. She is the illustrator of Field Guide to the Street Trees of New York City. Beth Bergman is a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera who moonlights as a nature photographer. Her photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Opera News, and Paris Match.




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Filed under Birds, Conservation, For Everyone, Nature, ornithology, Uncategorized

Happy birthday, Frederick Law Olmsted


Frederick Law Olmsted, c.1890, courtesy of the National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

Sunday, April 26th, marks the birth date of Frederick Law Olmsted. No short list of the most important and influential Americans of the nineteenth century would omit the name of Frederick Law Olmsted: mid-century agricultural reformer; sharp-eyed observer of slavery and slave society before the Civil War; mainstay of the United States Sanitary Commission; and the nation’s leading landscape architect and park designer—the creator of Central Park in New York City and leading conservator of Yosemite in California. Olmsted’s hundreds of projects preserved the natural world and placed the built environment comfortably aside natural beauty.

Within days of Olmsted’s birthday, Johns Hopkins University Press will publish Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks, edited by Charles E. Beveridge, Lauren Meier, and Irene Mills. This project, in the works for 40 years, highlights Olmsted’s drawings and plans in large format and glorious color. Lavishly illustrated with over 470 images—129 of them in color—this book reveals Olmsted’s design concepts for more than 70 North American public park projects through sketches, studies, lithographs, paintings, photographs, and comprehensive descriptions.

A recent Boston Globe review of Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks called the volume a “visual compendium of Olmsted’s work, taking readers on a visual tour through some of America’s most significant public landscapes.”

“Enlightening and lavishly illustrated . . . Whether your interest is in Olmsted and his work, landscape architecture in general, the development of nature-based recreation, or American history, Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks can provide a substantial expansion and deepening of your thoughts in your area of interest, as well as help connect it to other related (and perhaps even previously unconsidered) areas of study.”—The Well-read Naturalist (Full review may be read here.)

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Also new from Johns Hopkins University Press is The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted: The Last Great Projects, 1890–1895, edited by David Schuyler, Gregory Kaliss, and Jeffrey Schlossberg. This concluding volume of the monumental Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted captures some of Olmsted’s signature achievements, including Biltmore, George W. Vanderbilt’s massive estate near Asheville, North Carolina, and the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic Blair Kamin called this final volume “A fascinating new door stop of a book . . . [whose] revealing glimpses into the mind of America’s greatest landscape architect take on fresh relevance.”

We who care about American history benefit greatly from the work of the historians—Charles McLaughlin, Charles E. Beveridge, and many others—who, since the 1960s, have devoted themselves to the selection of Olmsted’s most significant papers, annotating them, and seeing them to publication in The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted.  Here we have, in wonderful combination, first-rate scholarship, distinguished book publishing, and the memorable work of an extraordinary American.

On Tuesday, August 4th at noon, Lauren Meier will speak about Frederick Law Olmsted at 92nd Street Y. For details, please click here.


Filed under American Studies, Conservation

Enjoying nature in Maryland this month

Guest post by Bryan MacKay

MackayWith a cautious nod to what seems to be (let’s hope) the arrival of Spring in Maryland, we offer the following April excerpt from Bryan MacKay’s A Year across Maryland, his week-by-week guide to enjoying the natural world in JHUP’s home state.

Rockfish (Striped Bass) Fishing Season Opens

Rockfish, that toothsome and combative gamefish, is now migrating down the Bay along the edges of the shipping channel, after spawning in the upper Bay and tributaries. Striped bass are anadromous fish: mature adults spend most of their time in the ocean but visit freshwater to spawn. About 70 to 90 percent of the entire Atlantic coastal striped bass spawn in Chesapeake Bay, especially in the upper tidal Potomac, the Choptank River, and the Susquehanna flats. The eggs and larvae are susceptible to certain environmental conditions and to pollution. Varying water temperatures cause significant mortality, as does acid rain runoff and trace concentrations of metal ions like aluminum, copper, and cadmium. Young rockfish spend the first three to seven years of their life in the Bay before entering the Atlantic, thereafter returning only to breed. This portion of the fishing season targets spawners returning to the ocean; younger fish must be released when caught. Striped bass can weigh up to 75 pounds; most fish over 30 pounds are female. Larger females are especially important to the survival of the species, as size correlates with egg production.

Where to find rockfish: It is possible to catch rockfish from land at Point Lookout State Park and other sites directly on the Bay, but most striped bass are taken from a boat in deep water. For a listing of charter boats, see  For a useful weekly blog about what’s being caught where in Chesapeake Bay, see

Lesser Celandine Flowering

MacKay April lesser celedineThe month of April brings the extensive flowering of this invasive non-native plant in alluvial floodplains and suburban lawns. Indeed, just before trees leaf out, lesser celandine seems to be everywhere, choking out native herbaceous vegetation, including the native wildflowers of April like spring beauty, bluebells, and bloodroot. Lesser celandine has kidney-shaped, thumbnail-sized shiny green leaves and brilliant, shiny, yellow flowers.  Emerging from many small bulbs, lesser celandine is almost impossible to eradicate. Only the fact that the leaves are above ground for only about two months, emerging in March and dying back by mid-May, keeps lesser celandine  from being considered our most troublesome invasive plant.

Where to see lesser celandine: Unfortunately, lesser celandine is extremely common, even ubiquitous, on the floodplain next to almost every river and stream in central Maryland. It is especially troublesome in Patapsco Valley, Gunpowder Falls, Susquehanna, and Seneca Creek State Parks and in Rock Creek Park and along the C&O Canal towpath.

American Robins Calling at Dusk

Mackay April robinPerhaps the ultimate bird of the suburbs, robins have adapted completely to humans and their developed landscapes. Robins will begin constructing nests as soon as the trees leaf out, and by mid-April, male robins are staking out their territories, singing to attract a mate, and chasing each other. Dusk seems to bring the most activity, and their alarm calls and song in the gloaming is a favorite sound of spring.

Where to see American robins: Listen for the calls of robins at dusk anywhere and everywhere in Maryland. The only places in Maryland where robins do not nest is on some small islands in Chesapeake Bay and possibly on Assateague Island.

Virginia Bluebells Flowering

MacKay April virginia-bluebellsWildflower enthusiasts may argue over what is our loveliest spring bloom, but certainly one finalist is Virginia bluebells. A plant common to alluvial floodplains, bluebells carpet the forest floor as far as the eye can see in some locations. Sky-blue trumpet-or bell-shaped flowers occur in hanging clusters above light green, fleshy leaves. Bluebells are pollinated by bees and butterflies. The flower buds are a gorgeous shade of pink, converting to blue upon full expansion. Albino flowers seem to occur in most populations. Virginia bluebells have a short season, blooming for only about two weeks in mid-April. Interestingly, while the flower is abundant in the floodplains of some Maryland rivers, such as the Potomac, Susquehanna, and Patuxent, it is missing entirely from others, like the Patapsco. Virginia bluebells form natural gardens covering many acres of alluvial floodplains at several locations in central Maryland.

Where to find Virginia bluebells: Extensive stands of bluebells occur at Susquehanna State Park, along the C&O Canal towpath, at Patuxent Research Refuge (North Tract), and at Bull Run Regional Park (Virginia).

Bryan MacKay is a senior lecturer emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is the author of A Year across Maryland: A Week-by-Week Guide to Discovering Nature in the Chesapeake Region; Hiking, Cycling, and Canoeing in Maryland: A Family Guide; and Baltimore Trails: A Guide for Hikers and Mountain Bikers.

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Botany, Conservation, Life Science, Nature, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, Wild Thing