By W Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford & Helen Smith | WildGuides | Paperback | May 2017 | 480 Pages | 700 Colour Photographs, illustrations & distribution maps | ISBN: 9780691165295
The Publisher’s View:
Britain's Spiders is a photographic guide to all 37 of the British families, focussing on spiders that can be identified in the field. Illustrated with a remarkable collection of photographs, it is designed to be accessible to a wide audience, including those new to spider identification. Britain's Spiders pushes the boundaries of field identification for this challenging group by combining information on features that can be seen with the naked eye or a hand lens with additional evidence from webs, egg-sacs, behaviour, phenology, habitats and distributions. Individual accounts cover 395 of Britain's approximately 670 species, with the limitations to field identification clearly explained.As the first photographic field guide to British spiders to be published since 1989, Britain's Spiders fills a major gap in the resources available to everyone with an interest in this fascinating, diverse and important group of animals.*
More than 700 stunning photographs:
* Includes a guide to spider families, based on features recognisable in the field, focussing on body shape and other characteristics, as well as separate guides to webs and egg-sacs
* Detailed accounts highlight key identification tips for each genus and species, and include information on status, behaviour and habitats
* Features up-to-date distribution maps, and charts showing adult seasonality
* Introductory chapters explore the biology of spiders, and where, when and how to find them, including equipment needed in the field
* Contains a complete list of the spiders recorded in Britain, indicating the ease of identification as well as rarity and conservation status
* Provides information on how to record spiders and make your records count, and guidance on how to take your interest further.
Lawrence Bee is an ecological consultant and educator and the author of the Field Studies Council's Guide to House and Garden Spiders.
Geoff Oxford is a biologist at the University of York and an authority on both colour variation and speciation in spiders.
Helen Smith is a conservation biologist and currently leads the conservation programme for the endangered Fen Raft Spider.
Fatbirder View: What I know about spiders could probably be written on the back of a middle-sized one. I know my better half has a complete phobia… notwithstanding her commitment to conservation of all kinds she would still prefer a world in which arachnids did not exist. Having been bitten by an arachnid, a scorpion that crept into our bed in Greece, she can attest to the extreme pain a sting can bring. What else do I know… well, my shed is full of Steartoda nobilis, the noble false widow, and I steer clear of them as I do wasps and for the same reason, although wasps are far more likely to sting than a spider is likely to bite.Of course, ‘she who must be obeyed’ is quite wrong in imagining a better world free of spiders… it would be one packed with a huge range of disease carrying insects; spiders have been keeping them culled for millions of years. I wish I could go from a dislike to a love of spiders but even this fascinating book isn’t going to do it. I don’t go out of my way to despatch them and can watch them go about their lives in the garden, but, like most of humanity I would prefer not to encounter them in my home. They are welcome to the wall cavities and under the floorboards, but I would rather they did not chase across my carpet on an October evening.
Their lives are fascinating and their diversity amazing and even in our relatively cold climate has a vast range of species. Arachnologists have many times more chance of discovering a new species as ornithologists; birds number some 10,000 or so, spider species number in millions.
Like other species they are grouped and share features so that to us amateur naturalist ID is possible, although I find it tricky. So, this guide is going to bridge the gap. I may have to ‘collect’ so live garden spiders to quiz them with the book open on my desk as it is slightly too large to hold open with one hand whilst leaning over a bush peering into the centre of a web. One has to be a bit cleverer than with Bird ID, which on a fairly cursory glance is pretty clear; with spiders the differences are mostly pretty subtle.
However, I found reading the material on a species page really helped narrow the possibilities using the same criteria one might for any other taxa, like habitat, prey, distribution and so on. I am very pleased this group has been covered by the WildGuide series, they still have pride of place where I can grab them from the shelves to use to put a name to the critters I encounter. Thoroughly recommended!
4th June 2017