The Plovers, Sandpipers and Snipes of the World. By Paul A. Johnsgard. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln & London, 1981. 493 pages; 32 colour and 32 black-and-white plates; diagrams, numerous maps and line-drawings. £27.00.
We needed a monograph on the waders or shorebirds (Charadrii) of the world, so this well-produced book by a distinguished professional biologist can be warmly welcomed. Though not an obvious author for such a work, Prof. Johnsgard has done a good job within the limitations imposed by a one-volume format, covering the literature well if not exhaustively and meeting most of my own requirements of a monograph (see Brit. Birds 73: 52). It is a pity, however, that space considerations excluded planned introductory chapters on population dynamics, migration, and moulting patterns. Even more unfortunate is the omission of the stone-curlews, the Crab Plover, and the coursers and pratincoles (as well as the seed-snipes and sheathbills), most of which are considered 'good' waders by the majority of authorities. The brief introduction opens with a review of the wader families and of their taxonomy and relationships; this is supplemented by further discussions at the end of each species-account, a source of continuing interest and instruction. Johnsgard recognises 165 species in eight families and 40 genera, the two largest families--the Charadriidae (plovers and lapwings) and the Scolopacidae (sandpipers, snipes, and allies)--being further divided into sub-families and tribes. Considering the difficulties involved, I find this arrangement mostly sound and satisfactory, though some dissension on details is inevitable.