This is a book for all readers who want to learn about amphibians, the animal group that includes frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians. It draws on many years of classroom teaching, laboratory experience, and field observation by the authors. Robert Stebbins and Nathan Cohen lead readers on a fascinating odyssey as they explore some of nature's most interesting creatures, interspersing their own observations throughout the book. A Natural History of Amphibians can serve as a textbook for students and independent learners, as an overview of the field for professional scientists and land managers, and as an engaging introduction for general readers.
The class Amphibia contains more than 4,500 known living species. New species are being discovered so rapidly that the number may grow to more than 5,000 during our lifetimes. However, their numbers are being rapidly decimated around the globe, largely due to the encroachment of humans on amphibian habitats and from growing human-caused environmental pollution, discussed at length in the final chapter. The authors focus our attention on the "natural history" of amphibians worldwide and emphasize their interactions with their environments over time: where they live; how they reproduce; how they have been affected by evolutionary processes; what factors will determine their destinies over time. Through the experienced eyes of the authors, who are skilled observers, we come to see and understand the place of amphibians in the natural world around us.
4 Limbs and Locomotion
6 Nose and Chemoreception
7 Eyes and Vision
8 Food Habits
9 Ears and Hearing
11 Temperature Characteristics
12 Body Water Regulation
13 Protection against Predators
14 Home Range and Movements
15 Territorial Behavior and Fighting
16 Homing and Migration
18 Parental Care
19 Contributions of Amphibians to Human Welfare
20 Declining Amphibians
"This fine book helps us to appreciate amphibians more fully and provides vital scientific information that may help us to protect them [...] Although amphibians are but one piece of the biodiversity crisis, this book may become a model for those who champion the preservation of threatened species of all kinds."
– Andrew R. Blaustein, Trends in Ecology and Evolution
"Conveys the authors' enthusiasm for studying the natural history of a fascinating group of animals. The illustrations are superb [and the] line drawings are a delight [...] A major contribution."
– Kentwood D. Wells, The Quarterly Review of Biology
"[P]rofessional zoologists and serious amateurs [...] will find it a really useful, and enjoyable, work of reference."
– Nicholas Gould, International Zoo News
"This book [...] seems likely to replace Duellman and Trueb's Biology of Amphibians as the standard text for students and researchers."
– Chris Mattison, New Scientist