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Myxomycetes: Handbook of Slime Molds

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Myxomycetes: Handbook of Slime Molds

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    Available in PDF Format | Myxomycetes: Handbook of Slime Molds.pdf | English
    Steven Stephenson(Author) Henry Stempen(Author)
Hidden in the leaf litter and other moist, shady places of woodlands and gardens lives a remarkable group of organisms. Myxomycetes - A Handbook of Slime Molds introduces observers to the lives of these organisms, which are distinguished by a cycle of changes that are quite beautiful, if often in miniature. Myxomycetes have some characteristics in common with the true molds or fungi, most noticeably the production of colorful spore-producing structures. But their affinity with other, more "primitive" living things is borne out by their alternating motile phase, in which individual cells coalesce into an amoeba-like plasmodium, able to creep about over the surface and also often brightly colored. Virtually all the species one is most likely to encounter are included. Steven Stephenson and Henry Stempen have written a field guide to a group of organisms for which guides have not been generally available. Yet this is not just a guide to the identification of slime molds. There is extensive information on myxomycetes as living organisms: their structural features, their distribution in sometimes surprising habitats such as snowbanks and deserts, and their ecological associations with plants and animals. Since they are best studied as living beings, simple methods for culturing myxomycetes are included. Detailed watercolor portraits, pen-and-ink drawings, and photographs illustrate the forms and features of the various life stages of myxomycetes. These superb illustrations are a valuable part of the use of the book as a ready reference for anyone with an abiding interest in the beauty and diversity of the natural world. References, a comprehensive glossary, and an index complete the work.

Steven L. Stephenson, a professor at the University of Arkansas, has collected and studied fungi for more than thirty-five years, and his research program has taken him to all seven continents and every major type of terrestrial ecosystem. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review Text

  • By M.Valentine on 17 May 2011

    A useful introductory book on the subject, although the "colour" plates are reproduced in black and white in this paperback edition, which detracts from both the aesthetic appeal of the book, and value of the plates in species identification.It is also worth noting that pages 95 and 96 are bound into the book in the wrong order, merging and confusing the species descriptions of both Ceratomyxia fruticulosa and Clastoderma debaryanum.Overall, the book provides useful information on the subject, and, with the caveat that this is a wholly black and white edition, the individual species descriptions and illustrations are excellent.

  • By Ashtar Command on 2 December 2010

    Did you know that the classic horror movie "The Blob" is freely based on a true story?Well, *very* freely...Slime molds are a curious and often overlooked group of organisms, defying all attempts at classification. Are they fungi? Are they animals? Or something else entirely? Currently, most slime molds are believed to be related to amoebae. But then, what on earth is an amoeba? Previously classified as animals, they are now an independent "kingdom".Slime molds have a complicated life cycle. Their most notorious phase is the plasmodium, actually a multinucleate cell. The plasmodium is bloblike, slimy and can become quite large (the size, say, of a mushroom). Also, it can move around. Often, the plasmodia are brightly coloured as well. This created quite a panic in a suburb of Dallas, Texas in 1973. The yellow plasmodia of the slime mold species Fuligo septica suddenly appeared on people's lawns, and when blasted with water, broke apart - with the parts continuing to slowly creep around, even getting somewhat bigger! Naturally, people panicked and assumed UFOs had something to do with it. Or had they just been watching "The Blob" too much? Eventually, the plasmodium settles down and becomes a fruiting body with spores. It's this strange life cycle, combining an amoeba-like stage and a fungus-like stage, which has long baffled researchers."Myxomycetes" is a good introduction to these organisms. The book is intended as a field guide to 175 species of slime molds found in eastern North America, but since most species are cosmopolitan, the book can probably be used in Europe as well. It should be noted that all illustrations are in black and white. Many of these creatures are extremely small, and found only in decaying wood or litter. Still, it's a pity that no colour plates of the more dramatic species have been included (such as the previously mentioned Fuligo septica).Apart from the species presentations, "Myxomycetes" contain chapters on how to collect and study slime molds, their geographical distribution, and their ecology. There is also a reference section.Apparently, slime molds prefer the temperate region, being less abundant in the tropics. They can be found in deserts and in the hills, but they prefer woods where they grow on bark, litter or dung. Some insects have specialized in attacking slime molds, including the slime mold beetles and the slime mold fly (which, however, may help them spread the spores). In the Mexican state of Veracruz, some of the natives actually eat our old friend Fuligo septica! They call it "moon feces", while the preferred English term is "dog vomit".Personally, I just call it The Blob...Finally, a word of warning. This is a typical book for nerds. If you don't already have a strong interest in slime molds, fungi or perhaps amoebae, I don't think you will appreciate it. Buy a more popularized book on mushrooms first! However, if you are one of those nature-lovers who just love to poke around in the litter, or look under the bark of trees, "Myxomycetes" might come in handy.

  • By A reader of fact and fiction on 17 April 2013

    I was looking for a easy-to-approach book about how myxomycetes live. Especially the "hive-mindish" behavior was very interesting for me. This book is more aimed to a hard-core fan, with quite much detail in taxonomy and species distinctions. Take the word "handbook" in the title in most literal meaning, and you won't disappoint.

  • By David Meadows on 20 January 2012

    This is a very good book for those interested in putting a name to a very unusual organism,that most people would not recognise. They are ubiquitous,if you know where to look.

  • By J. Roberts on 24 August 2015

    a specialist book , very useful

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