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A Field Guide to Bacteria by Betsey Dexter Dyer


A Field Guide to Bacteria by Betsey Dexter Dyer

Although most people are aware that bacteria are all around us, few would guess that they produce such distinctive and accessible signs. Whether you're walking on the beach, visiting a zoo or aquarium, buying groceries, looking for fossils, drinking beer, traipsing through a swamp, or cleaning scum from beneath a dripping outdoor faucet, you're surrounded by bacterial field marks. You don't need a laboratory or fancy equipment to find out what kind of bacteria are there--this guide will tell you how. --from the IntroductionBacteria are an integral aspect of every habitat in which they occur and affect the lives of humans, other animals, and plants in many ways. Too often, we equate bacterium with pathogen and think of bacteria as things to avoid. In a fascinating guide perfect for naturalists, students, teachers, and tourists alike, Betsey Dexter Dyer lets the reader know that it is possible to observe bacteria with all the senses. Many groups of bacteria can be easily identified in the field (or in the refrigerator) without a microscope. Written for curious souls of all ages, A Field Guide to Bacteria opens our eyes--and noses and ears--to this hidden (or neglected) world around us. Useful illustrations, including 120 color photographs, accompany Dyer's lively text throughout.


Despite being the most abundant and diverse organisms on Earth, bacteria are easily overlooked, cryptic, and challenging to identify. . . . To open the door to simple study and appreciation of bacteria, Dyer describes macroscopic attributes that allow the field identification of nearly every major group. . . . The book includes ideas for field trips to explore bacterial assemblages in their natural environments (from hot springs to kitchens, urban settings to tropical forests). --Science, July 18, 2003 This isn't a book on how to avoid E. coli and other nefarious bacteria that invade our food and homes, but an amateur naturalist's guide to all sorts of bacteria that can be seen (and smelled) without a microscope, from their habitats (hot springs, marine mud flats, even urban areas), to how to recognize and identify them in all their remarkable diversity. After all, the author reminds us, bacteria are 'the most predominant organisms on Earth,
and she even recommends taking a

point of view in order to understand them. All the major groupings are covered, along with information on how to culture bacteria, use a microscope, and practice good safety precautions. More than 100 color illustrations will assist the happy bacteria hunter as well

. --Publishers Weekly, 2003 A wonderful addition to any amateur naturalist's library. It is a witty and comprehensive look at a neglected subject by someone who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the material. . . . I can recommend this book without hesitation to amateur naturalists, educators, and parents as a key to unlocking the door to better understanding the world around them. --Jerry W. Kram, Society of Amateur Scientists E-Bulletin, July 25 2003 In writing this Field Guide, Dyer (Wheaton College) has done such an excellent job that even an amateur naturalist will find it interesting and adaptable. . . . It is potentially a wonderful resource for those who are interested in studying bacterial ecology--amateur naturalists, biology teachers, or even professional microbiologists, and should find a lasting home in the collections of all of them. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. --A.M. Dhople, Florida Institute of Technology, Choice, 41:4, Dec. 2003 This is an interesting book that aims to introduce bacteria in the field to serious amateur naturalists, biology teachers at all levels, and even some professional biologists who may appreciate the accessibility it afford to these otherwise obscure organisms. --Ecology 84:11, November 2003 Since bacteria themselves are generally not able to be seen without the aid of a strong microscope, the aim of this book is to help identify the presence of certain bacteria by macroscopic field marks--characteristics that can be seen, smelled, touched, or heard. The guide is written for amateur naturalists who may or may not have access to a microscope and covers all the major taxonomic groups of bacteria in an accessible manner. --E-Streams 6:12, December 2003 Bacteria are a driving force in global ecology, human physiology, earth history, evolution, and environmental issues. A Field Guide to Bacteria brings current thought about bacteria into everyday concepts of life. --Douglas Zook, Boston University Bacteria are very important in human lives and in natural and engineered environments where they mediate extremely important processes from disease to nutrient cycling. The challenge is that bacteria are so small that they are not readily observed except with a very powerful microscope. Betsey Dexter Dyer's focus on 'field marks
provides a practical way to observe bacteria on a macroscopic scale or to see the manifestations of their activities

. --James Staley, University of Washington

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd April 2003


Betsey Dexter Dyer

More books by Betsey Dexter Dyer
Author 'Like for Like'


Cornell University Press


368 pages


Popular science
Bacteriology (non-medical)
Natural history
Reference works



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