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November 2014 Vol. 52 No. 3

Springer SBM B.V.

The following review appeared in the November 2014 issue of CHOICE:

Primates and cetaceans: field research and conservation of complex mammalian societies, ed. by Juichi Yamagiwa and Leszek Karczmarski. Springer, 2014. 439p bibl index afp ISBN 9784431545224, $209.00.

The overarching goal of this edited volume is to offer a comparative view of two major mammal taxa: cetaceans and primates.  The result is an appealing and rarely taken approach to studying the similarities and differences in the sociobehavioral complexity and diversity of these two evolutionarily distant and yet convergent groups of animals.  The last section, "Selected Topics in Comparative Behavior," provides a unique, systematic comparison of the social networks and interactions, non-conceptive sexual activities, and mixed-species associations among monkeys, apes, dolphins, and killer whales.  Therefore, this collection of essays will interest readers from different disciplines.  However, the book falls short on several aspects.  Even though various topics are covered, most revolve around a limited range of research domains (namely, socioecology, life history, demography, and conservation issues).  Unfortunately, important and comparatively substantiated themes are missing (e.g., cognitive abilities, communication, culture, and group decision making).  Moreover, 9 of the 21 chapters focus on either cetaceans or primates without any comparative perspective.  Finally, the book lacks both a broad introduction and conclusive comments that would provide a synthetic comparative framework of research on primates and cetaceans.

--J-B. Leca, University of Lethbridge

Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. Upper-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty.