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July 17, 2002
OSWEGO -- A desire to help people understand and care for the environment sowed the seeds for a new publication by Dr. Donald Cox, a SUNY Oswego professor emeritus of biology and a former director of Rice Creek Field Station.
"A Naturalist's Guide to Wetland Plants: An Ecology for Eastern North America" is the start of a four-book series aimed toward both nature enthusiasts and those just interested in knowing more about plants, Cox explained.
The author has deep roots in the subject. "I've taught this information for 40 years," said Cox, who started in Oswego's biology department in 1962 and directed Rice Creek Field Station from 1985 to his retirement in 1995.
"Eighth or ninth graders could read and understand the book, while college students and even professionals can find it useful," he said. "It's written in a nontechnical language so it can be read by anyone who is interested in plants or wetlands."
To aid readers in recognizing wetlands flora, the book includes more than 120 illustrations by Shirley A. Peron as well as a glossary of common terms.
"I started with a very large manuscript," Cox said. "Syracuse University Press thought it would be easier to handle if broken down into four different sections."
It also means that any one book is easier to afford if a reader has a special interest, he added. The first book retails at $19.95 in paperback.
The second installment, "A Naturalist's Guide to Forest Plants," is due out next spring. While the books are already written, publication dates are not yet set for "A Naturalist's Guide to Meadow Plants" and "A Naturalist's Guide to Seashore Plants."
"Wetland habitats are the most endangered ecosystems in the world," Cox wrote in the book's introduction. "Although in the past half-century the attitude toward them has improved, wetlands are still shrinking."
He said that the theme of conservation permeates the book, which begins with a chapter on wetlands' important role in the ecosystem. Cox also covers different types of plants and their strategies for survival, how to collect and preserve plants and how wetlands change throughout the seasons.
Along the way, he identifies special types of plants, including those that are edible, medicinal, hallucinogenic or poisonous. The final chapter allows readers to engage in activities, projects and investigations with plants.
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