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Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America y J.R. Voshell

A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America 



  • J. Reese Voshell  


  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company (April 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0939923874
  • Product Dimensions: 8.0 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.18 pounds


Book Description

Popular interest in the observation and study of freshwater invertebrates is increasing. A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America meets the needs of this growing audience of naturalists, environmentalists, anglers, teachers, students, and others by providing substantive information in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language for many groups of invertebrates commonly found in the streams, lakes, ponds, and other freshwater environments of North America.

Section I provides background information on the biology and ecology of freshwater organisms and environments and explains why and how invertebrates can be studied, simply and without complex equipment, in the field and the laboratory. Section II describes nearly 100 of the most common groups of invertebrates, and for each group a whole-body color illustration is provided along with brief text pointing out the most important features that identify members of the group. Section III contains in-depth descriptions of the life history, behavior, and ecology of the various invertebrate groups, and explains their important ecological contributions and relationships to humans.

The Guide is broad in scope, geographically and taxonomically, and it is written at a substantive yet easily accessible level that will appeal to both novices and those with more advanced knowledge of the subject. It also contains more than 100 specially commissioned color illustrations by the well-known scientific illustrator Amy Bartlett Wright that will greatly facilitate the easy and rapid identification of specimens.  

About the Author(s)

Dr. J. Reese Voshell has taught in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech since 1976. He has received numerous research grants to study the effects of pollution and environmental stress on freshwater invertebrates, and has been named to the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence. His 30 years of teaching, outreach, and research have convinced him that people of all ages, educational backgrounds, and personal interests can become fascinated with freshwater invertebrates.  


Extremely useful to both amateurs and professionals, September 9, 2004

This book is an excellent guide to family-level invertebrate identification. It has wonderful pictures and excellent background information on the organisms.

Section I has the fundamentals of freshwater invertebrate biology. It discusses basic ecology of invertebrates and provides generalized information about habitat, feeding, movement, breathing, and stress tolerance. This section also discusses common methods of studying freshwater
invertebrates and provides references for further study.

Section II has an identification mechanism for identifying the invertebrates. The authors call it Quick Guide. The guide uses line drawings with written distinguishing features. It functions in a similar manner to a dichotomous key, but is not as complex.

Section III has natural history and ecological information for each group in the book. This section presents distinguishing features, explanation of names, habitat, movement, feeding, breathing, life history, significance, and stress tolerance for each specific group.

I have only two minor criticisms of this book. One criticism is that the book shows only adult beetles, when many times the larval forms are collected. This book would not help in their identification. Second, since most of the identification is pictoral, some groups (especially snails) would be difficult for beginners to distinguish. Once again, these are minor criticism and I use this book a lot.

Overall, I enjoy this book on many levels and it contains a wealth of information. As an aquatic ecologist I "live and die" by McCafferty and Merritt and Cummins, but those are large, cumbersome tomes. If I need a quick check on a fact, or to see a picture, I can easily take this book into the field or wherever I need it. I strongly recommend this book to you.