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Ethan Bright

Aquatic Insects of North America, 4th Edition

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My ordered copy of the 4th Edition of An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America (AINA-4, as I'll call it) came in, and I thought I would offer some preliminary observations.


First off, you might ask "Should I buy this?" My answer would be unequivocally yes, unless you only require a basic knowledge of aquatic entomology, in which case there some other resources that suffice (or you can buy a used copy of the 3rd Edition). (And some are free on-line). Also included is a CD-ROM disk with a pictorial key to the aquatic insects orders, but I have not yet examined this.


The basic organization of the book remains the same, although a newer generation of researchers are beginning to make their mark in the submitted chapters. It's still spiral bound, but this time the spiral is thicker and the pages seem to slide around easier, so it's expected that page wear will be less. However, the book is over 200 pages longer than the previous version, and it's heavy, so there will be wear and tear. Frequent users may indeed think about buying a back-up! The text is a little larger and easier to read, and the tables are now in larger size and Arial font which also improves reading. Also, there are almost 6000 references, and this alone is a value resource for researchers. For resource managers, consultants and many researchers, the tables now include tolerance levels.


AINA-4 begins with a color picture guide to common aquatic families, which is really great for beginning students to learn "gestalt" of what certain families look like. I think many of the people who post pictures of aquatic insect nymphs/larvae (this distinction is also treated in the book) could identify many of their insects based on these pictures. This is a great section! Chapters 2-7 provide an excellent up-to-date introduction into the sampling and ecology of aquatic insects. Chapter 8 provides an updated review of the hypothesized evolutionary relationships of the groups (and Collembola is rightly NOT considered an insect).


Without going into specifics (because right now I don't have time), important changes involve chapters 11 (Ephemeroptera- changes principally regard Baetidae and Heptageniidae), 13 (Semiaquatic Orthoptera - now includes better keys to the genera), 14 (Plecoptera - Stewart and Stark's adaption their nymphal book for this chapter, but importantly also include the adults), 17-18 (Trichoptera - incorporation of new taxa and some better descriptions to the plates, plus inclusion at the beginning of the book of color photos, 21 (Hymenoptera parasites of aquatic insects), and 22-26 (Diptera, including Tipulidae, Culicidae, Simuliidae, and Chironomidae).


My brief examination of this book leads me to describe this is as a outstanding update to an already excellent volume, and AINA-4 will continue the previous editions reputation as THE source for information regarding aquatic insects in Canada, USA, and northern Mexico, as well as elsewhere in the world. If you got the money, buy this volume!


Let me know if you have any questions regarding this book.


Cheers, Ethan

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Where can I purchase a 4th edition volume? All I have seen on a google search are 3rds.


I would appreciate a link.





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