Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Atlas of Ohio Aquatic Insects Volume I. Trichoptera.

Brian Armitage et al. recently published an atlas of the Trichoptera of Ohio (teaser here), and to be honest it was not what I was expecting. Armitage and his colleague Steve Hamilton have published a number of caddisfly atlases in the past covering the entire fauna of several North American families. Generally, these are guidebooks with genus keys and species pages with summaries, maps, and illustrations of male genitalia. And although trichopterologists have been waiting 15 years for the next volume to come out (if it ever will come out), these are great resources. I was expecting the Ohio book to be similar, with lots of illustrations of genitalia, a definitive diagnostic guidebook to the Trichoptera of Ohio. A 'new Ross 1944' if you will.

Although the book has many nice distributional maps, several checklists and many years of collection data, it is not what I would consider to be an atlas by the earlier works. The only genitalic illustrations are associated with the determination of a few new hydroptilid species, and no keys to genera or species of any kind. The publication is a very nice contribution to our knowledge of the distribution of species, and compiles a great deal of information, but what would be far more useful is an atlas of the diagnostic kind. For $25 dollars and with my small budget, the content doesn't match the price.

And I really am disappointed that it's unclear if the atlas series will ever be completed. I have distant plans to complete a very basic pictorial atlas of male genitalia with an accompanying genus key (similar to Hans Malicky's Atlas of European Trichoptera), but this is in very early development and I have far less resources than these authors. A good guidebook for the North American Trichoptera adults would be a major boon for professional entomologists and pro-ams/taxahackers alike.

Available through Ohio Biological Survey

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