Animal Marking: recognition marking of animals in research. Edited by Bernard Stonehouse. Macmillan, London, 1978. 257 pages; several black-and-white plates and line-drawings. £10.00.
This volume comprises 21 papers delivered at a symposium, organised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on the capture and marking of animals for research. The papers are divided into five sections: methods of capture, and marking in captivity; tagging; marking by tissue removal and modification; recognition without marking; and radioactive and radio-tracking techniques. Each section, except the third, contains at least one paper of interest to ornithologists. Keith Eltringham reviews methods of capture of wild animals. Allowing just three pages for birds, and two drawings, only the bare outlines of the commoner techniques are given. Robert Spencer, of the BTO, presents a thorough review of the development of bird rings, both metal and colour. Ian Patterson, of Culterty Field Station, covers other bird-marking techniques, including dyes, neck-, back- and wing-tags, collars, and nasal-saddles. Not surprisingly, the technique finding most favour with the RSPCA was individual recognition without the need for marking. Unfortunately, it is limited to a few large mammals (e.g. lion, giraffe and elephant) and just one bird, Bewick's Swan. Dafila Scott describes the Wildfowl Trust's study of this last species. Requiring close observation (preferably less than 100 m), and impossible with cygnets, this technique--excellent though it is--seems unlikely to be applied widely. Radio-tracking has been used more on mammals than on birds, but increasing miniaturisation is offering greater opportunities for the latter, as David Macdonald suggests in his account. Other chapters cover marking of large mammals, bats, reptiles, fish and invertebrates.