Spiders of North America

Princeton Univ. May 2022. 624p. ISBN 9780691175614. pap. $35. REF
Arachnologist Rose has said that developing “spider sense”—i.e., becoming adept at their identification—takes “practice, pattern recognition, and a keen eye for detail.” This superb field guide will help. An excellent introduction sets the scene for all things arachnid; titled “The Wonderful World of Spidering,” it covers taxonomy, anatomy, life history, collection and preservation tactics, introduced species, ecological benefits, and more. The book’s synoptic material is structured around eight major spider guilds (e.g., sensing web weaver, sheet web weaver, orb web weaver), 71 families, and some 500 of “the more commonly encountered species” in the continental United States and Canada. Each family description is headed by a dichotomous key. Each species entry includes common name (where applicable), body length, a range map, a brief description, and, most important, color photographs. Stunning visuals provide multiple views of subjects and at various stages of growth, in extreme close-ups, and in situ; physical characteristics of note, such as eye placement, are highlighted. Verbal descriptions are technical, but an illustrated glossary at the back of the book assists, as do the author’s rare, delightful personal observations—for instance, the markings on one little beauty (Colonus hesperus) remind her of “Groucho Marx’s eyebrows.”
VERDICT Indispensable. Rose gives professional biologists and interested amateurs everything they need to go a-spidering.
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