Getting into the Habitat.

This is the second edition of Britain’s Habitats, A Field Guide to the Wildlife Habitats of Great Britain and Ireland by Sophie Lake, Durwyn Liley, Robert Still and Andy Swash, another excellent title in the WildGuides series from Princeton University Press which will be a valuable resource for anybody with an interest in our wild flora and fauna.

Sixty five habitats, grouped within ten umbrellas groups, are described and illustrated with extraordinary generosity as the book has almost 700 photographs. I found these a great help in gaining a clear understanding of each habitat described and, indeed, opened my eyes to the significance of understanding the various habitats. When you have an interest in any aspect of nature, whether you wish to seek out our native orchids, bees, butterflies, wild animals or birds, an understanding and knowledge of the habitat where these normally occur is an immediate asset. The understanding of habitats is a cache of background information which assists and guides the enthusiasts in the pursuit of their interest.

Sample pages for “Grasslands” below showing the wealth of illustration, depth of mapping and well-organised layout:

The book is laid out in the general style of a field guide though probably a little bulky for that purpose. Following an introduction, there is a discussion on the types of habitat, the factors which influence them, natural change and succession and classification and conservation. The body of the book has ten umbrella habitat groups: Woodland, Scrub, Heathland, Grasslands, Mountains, Rocky Habitats, Wetlands, Freshwaters, Coastal Habitats and Other Habitats and each of these a number of types of habitats which fit within this umbrella grouping. For example, Woodland – one of the larger groupings – has Lowland Mixed Oak and Ash Wood, Lowland Dry Oak and Birch Wood, Beech Wood, Yew Wood, Wet Woodland, Wood Pasture, Upland Oak Wood, Caledonian Forest, Atlantic Hazel Wood, Upland Birch Wood and Coniferous Plantation. Other sections have similarly extensive ranges of habitats, an indication of the depth and detail to be found in this volume.

Each account follows the same format and includes information on how to recognize the habitat, its ecology, any overlaps with similar habitats, its origins, its conservation and particular features to look out for. Range maps are provided for all habitats, where appropriate, with details on distribution and extent along with lists of species which may be found in each.

Despite many wonderful conservation programmes and hugely raised public interest, we live in a dreadfully impoverished natural world with ever increasing loss of species – 44% of UK species have been in decline in the last ten years, for example. We need to give greater protection to our natural habitats, to allow rewilding where possible – leaving nature to itself – and work to reverse this frightening decline in biodiversity. This book will act as a guide and an encouragement in this process. An excellent resource for the lover of nature!

[Britain’s Habitats, A Field Guide to the Wildlife Habitats of Great Britain and Ireland, Sophie Lake, Durwyn Liley, Robert Still and Andy Swash, Princeton University Press Wild Guides, 2020, Softback, 416 pages, £25, ISBN: 978-0-691-20359-1]

2 thoughts on “Getting into the Habitat.

  1. That looks terrific. ‘The Wild Flowers of Ireland The Habitat Guide’ by Declan Doogue, photos by Carsten Krieger is also excellent. You probably have this one. I relied heavily on it as I was learning more about wildflowers.

    Liked by 1 person

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