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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 14, 2011

UI Press will release field guides on Midwest frogs and toads, and turtles

Two new Bur Oak Guides -- Turtles in Your Pocket and Frogs and Toads in Your Pocket -- will become available from the University of Iowa Press on Nov. 22.

Both laminated, fold-out pocket guides were written by Terry VanDeWalle, a senior biologist with Stantec Consulting, and feature photographs by Suzanne L. Collins, an executive officer of the Center for North American Herpetology.

The guides will be available at bookstores or directly from the UI Press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at

From the hefty alligator snapping turtle—the largest freshwater turtle in North America and the only turtle in the world with a predatory lure in its mouth, to the wood turtle, which uses "worm stomping" to catch earthworms, to the lovely ornate box turtle, which closes its shell completely for self-defense, the slow-but-sure turtle is detailed in Turtles in Your Pocket.

VanDeWalle provides a complete description of each species, both male and female, along with distinguishing characteristics for 14 subspecies, information about range and habitat, and natural history notes about behavior, hibernation, diet, and nesting. Two panels devoted to hatchlings provide short descriptions of the young of each species as well as photographs of some commonly seen young turtles.

Michael J. Lannoo, the editor of "Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species," wrote of the frog and toad guide, "Frogs and toads worldwide are endangered, and their biggest threats are human ignorance and indifference. It is also true -- ask any kid -- that frogs and toads are fascinating animals.

"Terry VanDeWalle's attractive and informative laminated guide to the frogs and toads of the Upper Midwest offers a bridge to a newfound knowing and understanding of these fine animals. It says: here are our frogs and toads -- they are beautiful and valuable. But it also suggests, by extension, that you should now go out there and look -- get a little muddy and rumpled -- and discover again what you once knew as a kid."

The guide informs both amateur and professional herpetologists about all 16 species of frogs and eight species of toads to be found in the Upper Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri.

Frogs and toads have become canaries in the coal mine when it comes to conservation, as the discovery of malformed frogs has brought increased attention to global habitat loss, declining biodiversity, and environmental pollution. Midwestern species of frogs and toads —- already declining due to habitat loss from agriculture —- have been greatly affected by this worldwide phenomenon.

Bur Oak Guides, which include user-friendly fold-out laminated guides and a wide array of paperback field guides, assist in a more direct exploration of the natural world. Named after the state tree of Iowa, Bur Oak titles are intended for recreational and professional naturalists, as well as all those interested in studying and preserving the habitats, plants, and animals of the Upper Midwest.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press, Winston Barclay, University News Services,