SCIENCES

Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World

Mountaineers. Apr. 2020. 208p. ISBN 9781680512076. pap. $17.95. NAT HIST
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Naturalist Brenner writes an absorbing set of observations of the natural world found in urban environments. She looks for spiders in basements and collects moths from street lamps. From there, she brings lichens home from the park and searches for slime molds on rotting wood. The narrative continues as the author gathers moss from the shingles on her roof and then collects tardigrades from the moss, describing not just where to look for urban species, but also their fascinating traits and behaviors. Notably, Brenner examines how resilience and adaptation allow species to thrive in cities and change the environment they live in, and how they influence the community (and us) to adapt to them. From crows to flies to fungi, Brenner’s work shows how little we know about and how rarely we see the species that surround us.
VERDICT Though focused on Brenner’s hometown of Seattle, this unofficial guide to finding wildlife in unexpected areas is wide ranging and companionable. Also included are tips and resources for budding urban naturalists.

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