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Host-Parasite Evolution: General Principles and Avian Models. – Dale H. Clayton and Janice Moore (Eds.). 1997. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. xii + 473 pp. ISBN 0-19-854893-1. Cloth, $110.00; Paper, $45.00. – Parasite-host interactions have been a hot topic for more than a decade, and for a variety of reasons many studies of parasitism have used birds as host systems. Despite this apparently fortuitous convergence for ornithologists, this is not a very "birdy" book. In other words, it is not really by or for ornithologists. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that readers expecting to broaden their knowledge of avian biology per se by understanding avian parasites may be disappointed. Instead, the book uses birds as model systems and attempts, as the title states, to provide some general principles that will synthesize the field and suggest avenues for future research. The intended audience is an academic one, although the appendices contain enough practical information about collection and classification of bird parasites that managers might want to consult the book as well.

The volume attempts to be both general and specific. The first 12 chapters provide an overview of host-parasite evolution (interestingly, the term "coevolution" is studiously avoided). The specific part of the book appears in the last five chapters under the heading "Avian Models" and in the six appendices on techniques, resources, and Latin names. The premise, we assume, was that the general section would be applicable to a wide range of systems, while the more specific section provides a list of host-parasite systems in birds in which the general principles can be studied. This division is not entirely successful. Most chapters in the first section almost exclusively use avian examples, which is not in itself a bad idea; many studies of host-parasite phylogenies, for example, or of parasite effects on host sexual selection, have been carried out in birds, so little is lost by the focus. On the other hand, readers interested in a truly general treatment of, for example, parasite community ecology, may be disappointed.

The general chapters address topics ranging from genetic control of immunity (Wakelin and Apanius) to parasitism and life-history evolution (Møller) and the role of parasitism in co-speciation (one chapter by Hoberg, Brooks and Siegel-Causey, and one by Paterson and Gray). The chapters on topics with which we were familiar were thorough and competent, though yielding few surprises. Møller provides a carefully researched and well-organized contribution, with the body of the chapter consisting of paired sections on the effects of parasites on life-history traits and, conversely, the effects of these life-history traits on parasites. He is careful throughout the chapter to differentiate experimental from observational studies. A chapter on "Comparative Studies of Host-Parasite Communities" by Gregory also is well prepared. Payne has a chapter on “Brood Parasitism” which while excellent in itself, is out of place in a book otherwise dealing with parasites that live in or on their hosts, as indicated in the introduction to the volume. If parasitism was to be taken in its broadest sense, the book should have included topics such as producer-scrounger systems or mate-choice copying behavior, as examples of information parasitism, and extra-pair parentage as a case of parasitism of parental care. Readers interested in brood parasites are not likely to pick up this book as a reference.

The issue of the intended audience appears at another level. Some chapters assume that the reader has a general understanding of a topic, and we found that chapters on subjects  relatively unfamiliar to us were sometimes daunting. Readers should be warned that if they lack a background in, for example, systematics, they will find the chapters on host-parasite speciation hard going. Other chapters are virtual repeats of reviews that have appeared elsewhere, and one is almost completely anecdotal. Nearly all the chapters contain thorough, up-to-date references, and having all the material on such a diversity of aspects of host-parasite interactions in one place is a plus.

The appendices, which deal mostly with field and laboratory methods in avian parasitology, perhaps are an unexpected highlight of the book. These appendices are a thoughtful inclusion for the merely curious (who among us has not occasionally wondered, on reading a paper, "How exactly did they do that?") and will be extremely useful for researchers planning to embark on similar lines of research. Three of them contain information about collection and identification of the different taxa of avian parasites, a fourth gives resources for identifying specific bird parasites, if one happens to have some in hand, and a fifth summarizes Latin names of birds in the text. The final appendix, on events leading to an acquired immune response, seems out of place and would have been better as an addendum to the chapter by Wakelin and Apanius on the genetic control of immunity.

The book will probably find its way to the shelf of anyone working in bird-parasite interactions, because it provides a comprehensive summary of the field and a convenient gateway to the vast primary literature.-MARLENE ZUK AND GEORGE LOZANO, Department of Biology, University Of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA.

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