A must-have for your bookshelf

Gretchen Steele Randa Field Guide 01

University of Illinois Press released the much-anticipated second edition of the Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Illinois in late June. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this most excellent field guide. I must confess I have a bit of a “problem” with field guides. Is there such a thing as a field guide addiction? If there is such a thing, I suffer from that addiction and probably need an intervention.

Over the years, I have amassed a large collection of field guides. Some of my most well-used and well-loved are those specific to Illinois and published by INHS and the University of Illinois Press.

I could tell within seconds of opening the new Second Edition of the Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Illinois that this volume would fast become a well-loved and often used field guide.

The guide, written by Christopher Phillips, John Crawford, and Andrew Kuhns, provides the most current and up-to-date information on Illinois’s 102 species of frog, toads, salamanders, turtles, lizards, and snakes.

I am familiar with the most common species of reptiles and amphibians found in southern and central Illinois. Yet, despite my love of herptiles, I still encounter those that stump me. Those unusual or confusing species require a lookup in a field guide or consultation with one of my herpetologist friends.

This new field guide is a most welcome resource. Its design, layout, and contents are easy enough for the average user to use. Yet the book is still detailed enough to satisfy those in the crowd who will key out a specimen old-school field guide style.

The introduction covers many aspects of reptiles and amphibians in Illinois, from biology and life history to a handy table of endangered or threatened species to feeding habits and reproduction. Next up in the book comes a wonderful “How to Use” section. Even though I am accustomed to using a field guide and keying out a species, I found this section very helpful for getting the absolute most out of this particular volume. The glossary is most beneficial when corresponding with other more experienced reptile and amphibian enthusiasts, as is the finely detailed and easy-to-understand key to the reptiles and amphibians.

The species accounts for each of the 102 species are especially well designed, with excellent photographs provided by several contributors. Each species account is thoughtfully arranged with a clear picture, habitat, distribution, key characteristics to assist in the identification, a listing of similar species for comparison, an overall description, and the species’ natural history.

Anyway, you look at this excellent field guide, and regardless of your level of knowledge regarding Illinois’s reptiles and amphibians, you definitely want a copy of this in your backpack or on your bookshelf.

The Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians is also available as an e-book from Amazon,  making it even handier to carry along in the field via a phone or I pad. Regular paperback copies can be purchased via Amazon or U of I Press.

Give this exciting new volume a look. I’m betting it’s one you will want!

Categories: — — Illinois – Gretchen Steele

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