Iowa Alumni Magazine | August 2005 | Reviews

Wetlands in Your Pocket: A Guide to Common Plants and Animals of Midwestern Wetlands by Mark Müller

By Mary Fishburn
Wetlands in Your Pocket: A Guide to Common Plants and Animals of Midwestern Wetlands
Wetlands” isn’t the term that first springs to mind in connection with the Midwest. Sun-baked prairies and rolling farmlands are more commonly associated with this part of the country.

Yet, wetlands ranging from six inches to six feet deep do exist here, playing a crucial role in the environment. Home to thousands of species, these areas provide havens for millions of migrating waterfowl, as well as filtering and regulating water flows.

This overlooked landscape is also a threatened one. More than 300,000 acres of wetlands are drained each year to make way for agriculture and urban development. Wetlands in Your Pocket: A Guide to Common Plants and Animals of Midwestern Wetlands offers a welcome glimpse into this vanishing ecosystem.

This pocket-sized manual, the latest in the Burr Oak Guide Series from the UI Press, is filled with 100 illustrations of the most common wetlands flora and fauna. It reveals a landscape of great beauty, where sandhill cranes feed among the white water lilies and widow skimmers glide just above the water’s surface.

The waterproof foldout style makes the guide handy for hikes and canoe trips, but Mark Müller’s beautiful illustrations are much too compelling for such limited use. The fine and lifelike detail of these graceful drawings—the feathery root system of the bladderwort, the subtle differences between species of sedge, the killdeer bird’s inquisitively cocked head—will entertain nature lovers of all ages at home as well as in the field.