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LIBRARY GUIDE TO Zoology Pathfinder

Print Sources


Kresge Library has three encyclopedias on this subject. First there is Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia ), a 17-volume set, each volume devoted to a particular aspect of zoology, e.g., Lower Animals, Mollusks, etc. True to its encyclopedic format, the articles are extensive, written by scholars with many illustrations and pictures. See also Grzimek's Student Animal Life Resource which is like a textbook. The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Animals (Ref. QL 605.4 .S56 1998) is arranged by common name , i.e., Mammals, Birds, and organized at the family level. Color illustrations with brief entries on range, habitat, size of the higher level animals within each family.  Animal Behavior Desk Reference (older edition, Ref. QL 750.3 .B37 2001) is an annotated dictionary with terms on animal behavior, evolution, ecology, and biology.

There ia also a related encyclopedia on animal behavior. The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (Ref. QL 750.3 .E53 2004) is a three volume work. Entries are alpha arranged and are scholarly with bibliographies.


Here are some online glossaries:

Butterfly Glossary

Amphibian, Reptile, Bird and Mammal Glossary

Zoology Glossary

Find a Bird Dictionary Topic

Shark Glossary

Cat Dictionary

Glossary of Avian Terms

Herpteology Glossary



Kresge Library has several good handbooks of a scholarly nature on this subject.  Handbook of Turtles (Ref. QL 666 .C5 C34 1995) focuses on the turtles of the U.S., Canada and the Baja California. Arranged by scientific name. Covers range, breeding, habitation, description and economic importance. Handbook of Frogs and Toads of the United States and Canada (QL 668 .E2 W8 1949) provides such information as common and scientific names, range, habitat, size, appearance.  We also have a number of "field guides," small pocket-sized books useful for identification purposes. I think the best one is The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians (Ref. QL 651 .K56 1979) because of its over 600 color plates.  See also Encyclopedia of Reptiles & Amphibians (Ref. QL 641 .E53 1998). 

Here are some web sites: AmphibiaWeb


The library has a limited number of books on fishes, both fresh water and salt. Fishes of the World (Ref. QL 614.7 .W47 1975) is a good place to start. It includes over 2000 entries plus 500 color plates. e. It has almost 700 color plates with compact descriptions of each species. The Encyclopedia of Fishes (Ref. QL 614.7 .E52 1998) is divided into two parts: Part 1, "The World of Fishes", has five chapters on behavior, classification, etc. Part 2, "Kinds of Fishes," is arranged by common name, i.e., catfish, wherein one will find information, including color pictures, on the variety of fishes within a family. Fishes of the World (Ref. QL 618 .N4 1994) is arranged by scientific name (see index for common name). Excellent for physical description and biodiversity.Not limited to fish, The Encyclopedia of Aquatic Life (Ref. QL 120 .E53 1985) provides long articles with color photographs. Over one half of the volume is devoted to fish and whales.



Kresge Library has several excellent titles on birds, ranging from single to multi-volumes. The Handbook of North American Birds (Ref. QL 681 .P35) is the best treatment of an encyclopedic nature. The articles are long, usually up to ten pages and cover every aspect of the species, such as description, range, eating habits, distribution, migration, etc. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds (Ref. QL 672.2 .I45 1990) is arranged by order. First, color illustrated are provided and then short "capsules" of information on breeding and habitation. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Ornithology (QL 672.2 .C35 1991) is not a good place to find entries on a certain kind of bird, but to get information on such topics as breeding, migration and range, population and so on. Birds' Eggs (QL 675 .W32 1994) provides color pictures of over 500 bird eggs from around the world and information on breeding and range. The Summer Atlas of North American Birds (Ref. QL 681 .P74 1995) provides "abundant maps" of 450 species. If you are looking for a dictionary of scientific bird names, see A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names  For migratory birds see The Atlas of Bird Migration (QL 689.9 .A88 1995). Excellent one-volume encyclopedias includes the Encyclopedia of Birds (Ref. QL 673 .E53 1985);  Bird Families of the World (QL 676 .B6213); and The World Atlas of Birds (Ref. QL 676 .W92 1974). They serve to bridge the gap between scholarly treatments and field manuals. The National Geographic Complete Birds of North America (Ref. QL 681 .N28 2006) is the latest book on this topic.

We do have three titles of the field guide genre.  For these, the reader is referred to National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region (Ref. QL 681 .B77 1994) and Western Region (Ref. QL 681 .U33 1994); and A Field Guide to the Birds (QL 681 .P45 1947) which covers eastern and central North America.

Bringing our topic closer to home, the Birds of Michigan (Ref. QL 684 .M5 B57 1994) offers color pictures plus information on 400 species of birds. We also have Michigan Bird Life (Ref. QL 684 .M5 B3) and The Birds of Michigan (QL 684 .M5 W6), both dated but still authoritative books on the subject.

Be sure to browse in the QL 681-696 area for birds of different countries.

Here are some web sites: All About Birds


CNAH Center for North American Herpetology

Michigan Snakes : A Field Guide and Pocket Reference.  (Ref. QL 666 .O6 M62 1999)


There is no better place to start exploring this topic than Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals (Ref. QL 701 .G7913 1989), a 5-volume work. One advantage of this title is that each animal, such as koala, is written by an expert in the field. Articles are about 5 to 10 pages with color photos. Next in importance is Walker's Mammals of the World (Ref. QL 703 .W222 1983), a 2-volume set. It covers the same range of mammals although in more limited scope.

On the state level, we have Michigan Mammals (Ref. QL 719 .M5 B35 1983) which has some unique features, one being that it covers mammals which were once native to Michigan but are now extinct. Coverage for each mammal is extensive: recognition, measurements and weights, distribution, skeletal drawings and references.

For a more compact treatment there is the "field guide," The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals (Ref. QL 715 .W49 1996) which follows the same format of other Audubon guides.

There are several other books on mammals in the QL 701 - QL 737 area, some of which have geographic distinctions.

Primate Info Net


Insects of the Great Lakes Region (Ref. QL 473 .D85 1996)  examines insects of the Great Lakes, their distribution, habits,  Genome of Drosophila Melanogaster (QL 537 .D76 L56 1992). for information on fruit flies.

Iowa State Entomology Index of Internet Resources

Encyclopedia of Insects


The Encyclopedia of Endangered Species (Ref. QH 75 .E49 1994) describes over 700 animals worldwide that are threatened by extinction. Covers mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mollusks, invertebrates, plants. For North American species only, see The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species (Ref. QL 84.2 .O35 1990; 4 volumes). The library also has two books on Michigan endangered species: A Guide to Michigan's Endangered Wildlife (QL 84.22 .M5 E94 1992) includes one to two page entries on each species plus color pictures. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan (QL 84.22 .M5 E63 1994) has comprehensive articles with bibliographies and sketches.




Animal Behavior Desk Reference.   (Ref. QL 750.3 .N37  2001)
This book is a dictionary of animal related terms.
Internet Sources

Meta Sites, Directories, Gateways

Internet Resource Guide for Zoology
This site has a search engine, but there are several other approaches: animals, subjects (very complete), systematics, conferences and so on.  It is really a wonderful site.

Yahoo's Zoology
This site is arranged by categories such as nomenclature or ornithology. The site listing is interesting as there are links to people such as Richard Dawkins, Konrad Lorenz and an email directory.

Academic Info:  Zoology Gateway
There is a lot more here than it appears.  Pay particular attention to General Links and Reference Desk.


Internet Public Library's Zoology
A list of resources.

The Electronic Zoo

Mammology Sites on the Web

Mammal Species of the World

Animal Diversity Web
Covers these animal kingdoms:

  • Amphibians
  • Arthropods
  • Birds
  • Bony Fishes
  • Echinoderms
  • Insects
  • Mammals
  • Mollusks
  • Reptiles
  • Sharks

WildFinder:Mapping the World's Species


Dan Ring
Dan Ring The content of this guide was originally curated by Dan Ring.


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