Nature Blog Network

Monday, May 19, 2008

Coloring Books for Grad Students

Today is my son's birthday and one of his presents (found through Kevin's comic book posting - Johann says "Thanks Kevin!") is The Marine Biology Coloring Book by Tom Niesen. I hadn't seen this one before, and it is definitely not a run of the mill coloring book!

The illustrations are far more anatomically correct with wonderful details such as the reproductive cycle of sacculinid barnacle. The text that accompanies it is both explanatory and accessible. It is very specific and aimed generally at students or very serious beachcombers. While accessible to advanced middle school, high school, or early college students, some professors use the book as a quick orientation to marine biology for students coming to the marine biology graduate program from other fields.

The book starts with a general overview of oceanographic currents, weather, tides and proceeds into 14 page spreads covering major habitats including zonation concepts, the photic zone and a page spread each covering deep sea and hydrothermal vent habitats. Spreads on biological diversity and reproduction are organized taxonomically. Special topic pages follow on migrations, symbiosis, competition, defense, feeding strategies and oceanographic technology.

The book does a very good job covering the balance of verts to inverts despite the cover focus. After taking out the 17 page spreads on physical oceanography and habitats, there are 4 page spreads on plants and algae. Invertebrates are represented by 54 page spreads while fish, reptiles, birds and mammals by total 37 spreads. Some of those are overlap such as the spread "Symbiosis: Parasitism" which highlights three parasitic relationships: copepods parasitizing fish, fish parasitizing sea cucumbers and barnacles parasitizing crabs.

A Highly recommended book for junior marine biologists, or maybe for all the family members.

(edit 5/22 - added author information (doh!) after noticing I forgot it after three of his former students - including authors of the Brine Queen and Echinoblog - checked in with wonderful comments.)


  1. The author of the MBCB is Tom Niesen, a professor of Marine Biology at San Francisco State. He was my Masters advisor and he's an excellent educator and he did a bang up job on it.. Its in a new printing too as I recall...

  2. Tom was the best teacher! He got me into this whole invert gig...

  3. I used an early version of this book when in marine biology summer camp in Montery over 20 years ago. Ten years later I was lucky enough to do my graduate work under Tom at SFSU.

  4. my invert zoology course used this book for handouts. i remember the professor raved about it.


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