Steven B. Reichling
pp. ISBN 1-57524-206-0 Cloth $ 29.50
pp. ISBN 1-57524-228-1 Cloth $ 21.95
to write a 148 page book about only 9 Tarantula species?
This was a question I asked myself when the book was announced.
Well, the author has succeeded quite commendably by including
a lot of other useful and interesting information.
book starts with a story of how and why the author came
to hunt for Tarantulas in Belize. This is quite interesting
reading, especially for someone from Belize, who might
know some of the people discussed.
introduction is followed by chapters on the physiography
of Belize and the history of Tarantula collecting in that
country. Basic spider classification explains what distinguishes
a tarantula from other spiders and chapters called “Why
Care about Tarantulas?”, “Why Worry about Tarantulas?”
deal with peoples fear of Tarantulas, how to deal with
that, what makes Tarantulas such interesting and worthwhile
study objects and what the place of Tarantulas is in the
whole of the tropical ecosystem. Chapters called "Tarantula
Habitats", "The Hidden Life of Belizean Tarantulas"
and "How to Find Tarantulas" explain more about
the lifestyle of the different species and how knowing
their habits can help you finding them. Important in this
context is a chapter called "Collecting and the Law"
which explains in great detail the steps that you have
to go through if you want to legally study and/or catch
Tarantulas in Belize and import them into the United States.
comes the taxonomic section: "How to identify Belizean
Tarantulas" describes general morphology and diagnostic
characteristics and also comes with a key to the tarantulas
of Belize. The chapter "Species Accounts" describes
in detail all the 9 species reported from Belize. This
description is very detailed indeed. Apart from the morphological
description it comments on similar species, distribution
(with map!), habitat, abundance and reproduction. This
section is enhanced by in total 14 color plates of the
species discussed. The nine species reported may not constitute
everything that actually IS in Belize. For this reason
there is a chapter on "Extralimital Species",
describing an extra 4 species that have been described
from areas near Belize and might just occur here as well.
will be happy with a "Gazetteer" giving locality
records for all the specimens that the author examined
for this publication. Equally important for the specialist
is the bibliography, while every reader will be happy
with the glossary that concludes the book. After all,
spider taxonomy comes with a lot of very specific scientific
terminology and reading this book without having access
to its glossary would be a challenge for most readers.
all, an excellent book and it encouraged me to go out
and find the species described. Now I am fortunate to
live in an area where 5 of the 9 species are supposed
to occur, so going into the woods and looking for burrows
was likely to come up with some results. I was particularly
pleased with the descriptions of the "Pygmy Tarantulas".
These descriptions were so accurate that in no time I
discovered dozens of burrows of these miniature
were a few instances when I found some shortcomings. Many
of the black and white pictures in the book didn't come
out too well. Some of the pictures actually don't show
anything discernible. There is one small but annoying
typo; in the distribution maps, Guatemala and Mexico are
consistently confused! The key to the Tarantulas, I found
difficult to work with. First of all, it starts with the
choice of identifying males or females. How do you know
Of course the difference is explained in previous chapters,
but it is annoying having to go back and dig that piece
of information up (especially when you have an aggravated
tarantula in your hands). It would have been nice if some
of the essential morphological characteristics (such as
had been explained with the aid of a drawing. Confusing
is the issue of Psalmopoeus maya. The validity
of this species is tenuous at best. That the species in
included none the less, is excellent. Just in case the
species is "real". In the book there is a picture
together with locality notes. In the species account of
this species however, this specimen is not mentioned.
How come we can be sure that the specimen in the picture
is indeed P.maya?
in all, this book is an up-to-date reference that presents
the tarantulas in Belize. This book is a must for professionals,
hobbyists, naturalists and everyone interested in the
biodiversity of Belize.
Guide To The Frogs And Toads Of Belize
John R. Meyer and Carol Farneti Foster
pp. ISBN 0-89464-963-9 Cloth $ 24.50