CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 18 . . . . April 27, 2007
Part of the 12-volume “Food Chains” series, these titles describe the flora and fauna of various habitats as well as the adaptations which enable them to survive. Readers will be introduced to food chains, food webs and energy pyramids and learn how the actions of humans threaten the survival of many habitats. Each book is comprised of 14 chapters, a table of contents, an index, a glossary and excellent colour photographs and illustrations (many of them recycled from other Crabtree titles). Much of the information is repeated in the series, the only differences being the animals and plants used as examples or shown in the diagrams of the food chains and webs. In fact, there are other Crabtree titles which contain similar information as well.
Australian Outback Food Chains introduces readers to photosynthesis and to the diverse species of plants and animals which make the harsh outback environment their home. Also explained are the terms primary producers, primary consumers, secondary and tertiary consumers, balanced populations, opportunistic feeders, scavengers and detritus food chains (these terms crop up in other titles in the series, too) as well as the difference between grazers and browsers. The book ends with a brief discussion of the problems caused by the clearing of land for mines and farming, by livestock trampling the burrows of other animals, and by tourists visiting the outback.
Rainforest Food Chains provides information about the four layers of the rainforest- the emergent layer, the canopy, the understory and the forest floor. Driptips on leaves and the ability of epiphytes to grow on other plants are just a few of the many adaptations featured in this title. The authors also provide a realistic look at the importance of predators to wean animal populations of the weak, old and sick members of the group. There is also information about pollination. Problems facing the rainforest include logging operations, clearing land for farming and the increasing number of endangered species.
Savanna Food Chains highlights the various types of savannas, the two main seasons and the ways in which animals survive- migrating and burrowing, for example. The creation of reserves to protect plant and animal species is one way that several countries are dealing with the disappearance of the savanna.
In Wetland Food Chains, readers will find information about the inhabitants of marshes. Some of the inhabitants are permanent marsh dwellers, while others are migratory. The authors describe the process by which aquatic plants and algae make their own food because of sunlight’s ability to penetrate the shallow waters of the marsh. Emergents and submergents are the new terms introduced in this title, emergents being the plants whose roots grow in waterlogged soil but whose tops show above the surface of the water. Hollow tubes carry the air to the rest of theplant. Submergents, by contrast, do not need air. Their thin, feathery leaves are able to absorb carbon dioxide from the water.
Although the series provides a lot of information and excellent photographs, a great deal of the information- terminology especially- is repeated. It is, therefore, unnecessary to purchase the entire collection; one or two titles will suffice.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.