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Silent Summer: The State of Wildlife in Britain and Ireland

  • Foreword by Sir David Attenborough
  • Coverage of every major vertebrate and invertebrate group provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of British wildlife
  • Accessible to the non-specialist and includes a glossary of technical terms and list of acronyms
  • A useful reference book, collecting difficult to find information in an easily readable form

By: Norman MacLean(Editor), Sir David Attenborough(Foreword By)

765 pages, colour plates, illustrations, tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | May 2010 | #183785 | ISBN-13: 9780521519663
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Special Offer Price: £23.99 £40.99 (Save £17.00) $33/€27 approx (ends 31/03/2018)

About this book

Over the past 20 years dramatic declines have taken place in UK insect populations. Eventually, such declines must have knock-on effects for other animals, especially high profile groups such as birds and mammals. This authoritative, yet accessible account details the current state of the wildlife of Britain and Ireland and offers an insight into the outlook for the future. Written by a team of the country's leading experts, it appraises the changes that have occurred in a wide range of wildlife species and their habitats and outlines urgent priorities for conservation. It includes chapters on each of the vertebrate and major invertebrate groups, with the insects covered in particular depth. Also considered are the factors that drive environmental change and the contribution at local and government level to national and international wildlife conservation. Essential reading for anyone who is interested in, and concerned about, British wildlife.

"If we are concerned about the environmental future of Britain and Ireland, then we must know as much as possible about its present condition [...] That is why this book is so important. It gives us a benchmark [...] It is invaluable now – and in years to come it will be irreplaceable."
- Sir David Attenborough, from the Foreword

"The book is absolutely terrific. An all-star cast of conservation scientists and practitioners document powerful stories of loss – and of hope for the future – among Britain and Ireland's many non-human inhabitants. Gripping and rigorous – a core foundation for students of Conservation Ecology and Environmental Science."
- Gretchen Daily, Director, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

"The season has changed but the silence is deeper and that's why this important book must be read. It's not a catalogue of doom – it's a pragmatic snapshot of reality and a desperate plea for action. Your action."
- Chris Packham, Naturalist, Wildlife Photographer and TV Presenter

"[...] thoughtful and comprehensive [...] timely [...]"
- Guardian

"Every now and again a really good entomology book appears [...] informative, insightful and a true delight to read [...] Silent Summer [falls] into this rare category [...] This book is a rich source of information about the state of our fauna and flora and a copy should find its way onto the bookshelf of every entomologist in the UK [...] The editor, Norman Maclean, is to be congratulated for publishing an excellent book."
- Antenna

"If I had to sum up the state of Britain's wildlife in one word, I'd say 'terrible', but this book is generally rather more positive!"
- The International Journal of Avian Science

"[...] should [...] contribute to our attempt to rescue and preserve the remaining biodiversity of the British Isles."
- Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

"[...] a timely review of the state of our wildlife today [...] having all the information on so many groups in one place means that we can reach a much more balanced assessment of the overall state of our country's wildlife and this is the great benefit of the book. [...] a rich source of information about the state of our fauna and flora and a copy should find its way onto the bookshelf of every entomologist in the UK. [...] The editor, Norman Maclean, is to be congratulated for publishing an excellent book."
- British Journal of Entomology and Natural History

"Silent Summer is "like a Domesday Book of British Wildlife", according to its editor, Professor Norman Maclean. In a foreword, Sir David Attenborough warns that "it is invaluable now and in the future it will be irreplaceable". Will any real action be taken? Of course not. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson's masterpiece, alerted the world in 1962 to the effects of agricultural pollutants such as DDT and in many ways launched today's environmental movement. Silent Summer raises more complex and local questions."
- Terence Blacker, The Independent

"Now, in an echo of that breakthrough publication, Sir David Attenborough has written the foreword to a new book, Silent Summer. Since Silent Spring we thought we had learnt a lot. But, as Sir David and 40 ecologists make clear, that is not so. Our wildlife is in retreat thanks to modern farming and the encroachment of urban life on the countryside."
- The Times

"Published in 1962, Silent Spring helped launch the global environmental movement and, in Britain, prompted an eventual ban on pesticides such as DDT. Maclean believes, however, that such triumphs have done little to slow the destruction. "The evidence is that we could be in the middle of the next great extinction of wildlife, both globally and in Britain" he said."
- Jonathan Leake, The Times

"Perhaps what I'm excitedly photographing and noting today is the cliched pale shadow of twenty years ago. I may be incredibly lucky in that I'm seeing something that in terms of biodiversity is equivalent to fifty or even a hundred years ago, but there's no way of knowing."

"A new major environmental book, entitled Silent Summer: The State of Wildlife in Britain and Ireland, offers up disturbing facts and figures about the human impact on nature in the British Isles. Celebrated naturalist, broadcaster and national treasure Sir David Attenborough has penned the forward to the book, a collaborative effort by 40 UK ecologists, which outlines the impacts of pesticides, population growth and intensive farming on British and Irish flora and fauna."

"Prof Maclean argues that "the evidence is that we could be in the middle of the next great extinction of wildlife, both globally and in Britain."
- Nick Collins, The Telegraph


List of contributors
Foreword David Attenborough
List of abbreviations

1. Introduction Norman Maclean

Part I. Factors Driving Changes in Wildlife
2. Climate change T. H. Sparks, C. D. Preston and D. B. Roy
3. Agriculture, woodland and semi-natural habitats Ken Norris
4. Vertebrate animal introductions Christopher Lever
5. Plant introductions Andrew Lack
6. Urbanisation and development Kevin J. Gaston and Karl L. Evans
7. The great game: the interaction of field sports and conservation in Britain from the 1950s to 2008 Robin Sharp
8. Going fishing: recent trends in recreational angling Robin Sharp and Norman Maclean
9. Impacts of hormone disrupting chemicals on wildlife C. R. Tyler and R. M. Goodhead
10. Water pollution: other aspects Michael Hughes and Carl Sayer
11. 25 key questions in ecology Norman Maclean

Part II. Conservation in Action
12. Conservation in action in Britain and Ireland Andy Clements
13. Wildlife in the UK Overseas Territories Mike Pienkowski
14. UK involvement in conservation outside UK territory N. Leader-Williams and A. M. Rosser

Part III. The Case Histories: 15. Mammals in the 20th century D. W. Yalden
16. Bats Karen A. Haysom, Gareth Jones, Dan Merrett and Paul A. Racey
17. State of bird populations in Britain and Ireland Robert A. Robinson
18. The conservation of the Grey Partridge N. W. Sotherton, N. J. Aebischer and J. A. Ewald
19. Reptiles Chris P. Gleed-Owen
20. Amphibians Tim Halliday
21. Freshwater fishes: a declining resource Peter S. Maitland and John F. Craig
22. Riverflies Cyril Bennett and Warren Gilchrist
23. Bumblebees Dave Goulson
24. Butterflies J. A. Thomas
25. Moths Richard Fox, Kelvin F. Conrad, Mark S. Parsons, Martin S. Warren and Ian P. Woiwod
26. Dragonflies (Odonata) in Britain and Ireland Peter Mill, Steve Brooks and Adrian Parr
27. Flies, beetles and bees, wasps and ants (Diptera, Coleoptera, and Aculeate Hymenoptera) Alan Stubbs
28. Hemiptera Alan J. A. Stewart and Peter Kirby
29. Grasshoppers, crickets and allied insects Judith Marshall
30. Aerial insect biomass: trends from long-term monitoring Richard Harrington, Chris R. Shortall and Ian P. Woiwod
31. Invertebrates Richard Chadd and Brian Eversham
32. Land and freshwater molluscs Ian J. Killeen
33. The sea shore S. J. Hawkins, H. E. Sugden, P. S. Moschella, N. Mieszkowska, R. C. Thompson and M. T. Burrows
34. The offshore waters John Baxter
35. Plants Andrew Lack
36. Conclusion: what is the likely future for the wildlife in Britain and Ireland? Norman Maclean


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Norman Maclean is Emeritus Professor of Genetics at Southampton University and has a strong interest in wildlife, conservation and river management. He has helped to run student field courses for more than 20 years and has authored and edited more than a dozen textbooks and reference books in Genetics and Cell Biology. He is an Elected Fellow of the Linnaean Society and the Institute of Biology.

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